NEWS

Fire threatens homes on Skiathos

A fire that broke out on the island of Skiathos yesterday morning ravaged forestland and forced the evacuation of three villages and two hotels before it was contained late last night as strong winds waned. A few homes were damaged by the blaze, believed to have started near a garbage dumpster, but there were no injuries. The head of the fire service, Andreas Kois, arrived on the island in the afternoon as the General Secretariat for Civil Protection declared a state of emergency. After the blaze was contained, firemen remained on standby. Fires were also reported to have broken out on Mt Pelion, which was ravaged by a huge blaze at the end of last month, as well as in Lamia, Amaliada and Nafplion. Meanwhile, the bodies of three seasonal firefighters who died in a huge blaze on Crete on Wednesday, were buried in state ceremonies. A fourth firefighter, who survived the fire, was transferred to an Athens hospital with serious burns. Two of the dead, Nikitas Koromilas, 34, and Iraklis Tzanakis, 40, died of asphyxiation before they were burned, according to a coroner who identified them from dental records. Survivor Manolis Michalodimitrakis, 37, has burns on 55 percent of his body. A preliminary investigation was ordered into the circumstances surrounding the seasonal workers’ expedition to the gorge near Rethymnon where the fire started. The fire official who had been on duty on the day of the fire said he had not ordered the workers to approach the gorge. But the president of the national union of seasonal forest firefighters, Giorgos Pontikalis, was unconvinced. «Those who ordered those people to go down there should face up to their responsibilities,» he said.