Fires torment Halkidiki

Halkidiki was on alert again yesterday after forest fires broke out in each of the peninsula’s three prongs as a large firefighting operation intensified last night to prevent the blazes from spreading. The fires started in Cassandra, Sithonia and Mount Athos at around 5 p.m. just a day after a long-burning forest fire in the Cassandra cape had finally been extinguished by heavy rain. The fire, which burned for almost a week in Cassandra, charred some 5,000 hectares of pine forest. However, yesterday’s blaze started in Cassandrino, in an area that had not been scorched by the previous fire. By last night, firefighters said they had the situation under control but the blaze had already burned for a kilometer through a forest. Authorities said that the fire was probably caused by lightning. The fire in Halkidiki’s second promontory, Sithonia, broke out in a remote mountainside pine forest, while the fire on Mount Athos was not close to the area’s monastic community. Four water-dropping airplanes as well as dozens of firefighters took part in the effort to extinguish the blazes. Authorities were confident that the danger had passed last night in Sithonia and Mount Athos. «The whole area is under control and there is no danger of the fire rekindling,» the general inspector of fire services, Constantinos Skokas, told Kathimerini. In the southern Peloponnese, 60 firefighters, six water-dropping helicopters and two airplanes were participating in the fight to put out a blaze in Gytheion in Mani, which broke out around 2 p.m. Firefighting efforts continued last night. Mani had suffered a large fire last week that burned more than 200,000 olive trees. Earlier in the day, authorities in Attica said arsonists had set fire to the forested area of Keraies near Marathon, northeast of Athens. Firefighters promptly put out the blaze, which started late on Monday. They found a homemade incendiary device and said it was the third time this summer that arsonists had tried to burn down the trees.

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