Evros fires leave massive scars

Firefighters on Sunday were bringing under control a large forest fire in Evros, northeastern Greece, but the blaze had already scorched an estimated 7,000 hectares of land.

Eastern Macedonia-Thrace Governor Aristidis Giannakidis told Skai radio on Sunday that the blaze was under control but that widespread damage had already been wreaked on forest and farmland.

The blaze, which broke out on Tuesday, had been fanned by strong winds but the deputy fire chief, Panyiotis Bonatsos, told Skai that arson is also likely to have played a part. He attributed two new fronts on Saturday to arsonists.

A 50-year-old farmer from Evros was handed a suspended five-year prison sentence and a 20,000-euro fine after being arrested for starting a fire that threatened the Dadia pine forest, a national park. The farmer claimed the blaze was caused by his tractor?s exhaust sparks.

Firefighters battled 22 blazes on Saturday but were aided by four French and Spanish water-bombing planes.