Chios arson suspect ‘was thwarted fireman’

A 24-year-old Greek man, alleged to have started a fire on Chios that ravaged the eastern Aegean island for nearly a week because he was angry at not being hired as a firefighter, has been arrested, Skai understands.

The suspect, who is reportedly the son of a firefighter on a short-term contract, is said to have admitted to starting 14 separate fires in the north of the island but not the original blaze last Saturday. He was arrested on the island by members of the fire service’s arson investigation unit.

The fire, which burned on several fronts for six straight days, destroyed an estimated 15,000 hectares of forest and arable land on Chios, along with hundreds of mastic trees. The island’s economy relies largely on mastic — a resin used in cooking, cosmetics and medicines.

In a related develeopment, a 60-year-old man was arrested on Zakynthos in connection with a blaze on the Ionian island on August 23.

A total of 250 people have been detained on arson charges this year. In most cases they are accused of arson through neglect rather than intentional sabotage.

On Sunday, firefighters were battling two new blazes in the Peloponnesian prefecture of Messinia and in Serres, northern Greece, as sweltering temperatures and strong winds created tinderbox conditions. A forest fire that broke out on Saturday, in Kymi in northern Evia, was almost under control on Sunday while another blaze in Arkitsa, Fthiotida, had reportedly abated following a coordinated effort by firefighters and local volunteers.