NEWS

Andros fire blamed on arson

Arsonists were responsible for the brush fire that scorched more than 30 hectares of forested areas on the Cycladic island of Andros this week, the island’s mayor told Kathimerini yesterday, as four more blazes broke out around the country. Mayor Manolis Vamvoukas accused the forestry service of preventing authorities from setting up fire protection zones. He also claimed the forestry department was myopic in its insistence that some plots of private land remain classified as forests. This classification, Vamvoukas said, likely prompted arsonists to scorch the land to clear it for development. «Even the plots of land that have scant vegetation are classified by the state as being forestland,» Vamvoukas told Kathimerini. «But the demand on the island for land to build on is huge so people who own land set fire to it in order to overcome the obstacles which the forestry service puts in their way.» The fire on Andros began on Wednesday and was put out yesterday afternoon. The fire service said that it had difficulty extinguishing the blaze because it was fanned by high winds which reached speeds of 8 Beaufort. The strength of the winds excluded water-dropping airplanes and helicopters from the firefighting operation. Two firefighters were injured during the effort to put out the blaze, which also burned farmland in the areas of Pitrofos and Menites. Meanwhile, firefighters also tackled a brush fire yesterday in Mavrokordato near Drama, northern Greece. Five water-dropping airplanes were also used in the operation. Fires also blazed near the resort of Laganas on Zakynthos, in Geraki in the western Peloponnese and in Palamidi near Nafplion. Some 50 firefighters worked to put out yesterday’s blazes.