Zakynthos seeks to douse fires

Officers from the fire service’s arson squad went to Zakynthos yesterday to aid authorities in tracking down suspected arsonists and to help locals protect against forest fires after a series of blazes on the Ionian island. The officers are visiting Zakynthos after yet another brush fire broke out on the island on Monday. More than 60 such blazes have ravaged Zakynthos since the start of summer. Authorities on one of Greece’s greenest islands believe that many of the fires have been lit on purpose. A man was arrested some two weeks ago in connection with three fires in the Laganas area of Zakynthos, which is popular with tourists. The head of the prefecture’s civil protection authority Nikos Fotopoulos told Kathimerini that most of the fires have started in relatively remote and undeveloped areas. He added that it was not immediately evident that the fires would bring any financial gain for people looking to build on the land but he insisted that that arsonists had been involved. Special investigators from the fire service will look into these claims as they hope to help authorities apprehend arson suspects. However, they will also advise local authorities on how to improve defenses against forest fires. Meanwhile, firefighters extinguished a forest fire yesterday that broke out in Laganas on Monday. Authorities suspect the blaze was the work of arsonists. No homes were damaged but tens of hectares of pine forest were scorched. Authorities were not able to provide an exact assessment of the damage caused. Four water-dropping helicopters and an airplane began working on Monday afternoon to extinguish the fire.