NEWS

Kechries fire destroys agricultural land; reports of damages houses

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Scores of firefighters on Thursday battled for a second day to contain a large blaze that broke out in the area of Kechries, near Corinth, on Wednesday, with the fire service saying the flames had been brought under partial control by late last night, though the damage was reportedly significant. 

In comments to Kathimerini late Thursday, Corinth Mayor Vassilis Nanopoulous said winds, which had reached 7 Beaufort earlier in the day, had eased while constant water-dropping flyovers by firefighting aircraft had helped restrict the extent of the blaze that had been spread across several fronts. 

Following the evacuation of six villages and a children’s summer camp on Wednesday, authorities ordered residents to leave another two settlements, as well as transferring 900 people from The Ranch summer camp near Sofiko to the town Corinth.

There were no reports of injuries. 

According to local authorities, the fires had damaged around 10 houses by late Thursday night. The destruction wreaked to agricultural land, chiefly olive trees, is believed to be much larger however, with an estimated 2,000 hectares thought to have been razed.

Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias called for the activation of the European Union’s Copernicus satellite-based Earth observation network in order to assess the extent of the fire damage.  

Meanwhile, an investigation is already under way into the causes of the blaze following claims by Nanopoulos that another fire had broken out in the same spot around 10 days ago.

Authorities are to probe claims by some local residents that Wednesday’s fire was arson and are to examine footage from security cameras at a military facility close to the spot where the blaze broke out.