Recent wildfires on Zakynthos, which has suffered widespread damage following dozens of blazes, were the work of arsonists, according to Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas.
Speaking on Real FM radio Tuesday, Toskas suggested that the arsonists may have being trying to create space for “hotels where there are currently forests.”
He said that 22 fires were recorded at the same time on the Ionian island and that there had been 84 fires in total on Zakynthos this summer. Most of the latest fronts were under control Tuesday but almost 200 firefighters remained on alert. A total of 18 fires had broken out by yesterday afternoon but they were all brought under control.
Toskas noted that many were in the northern part of the island, where “there is a lot of speculation and a lot is at stake.”
The minister added that pilots of helicopters used to help put out the blazes had seen people trying to set fires. “Of course there will be cases where the fires happened by chance but in most cases they appear to have been arson – this is what everything points to,” he said.
Zakynthos Mayor Pavlos Kolokostas said that around 1,000 hectares of forestland and brushland had been destroyed by the fires. “The island will be in a state of emergency for three months,” he told Kathimerini. “Apart from the review of the damage, which authorities have already launched, we need to begin anti-flood works immediately.”