Wind whips up brush fires

Strong winds across Greece fanned more than 100 brush fires – some of which firefighters were still battling last night – and disrupted sea travel during one of the busiest times of the year for ferry companies. The fire service said late yesterday that a blaze in the Seikh Sou Forest on the outskirts of Thessaloniki was under control. Firefighters were also trying to put out a fire in the area of Arcadio, near Rethymnon, on the island of Crete, last night, on a day when winds reached speeds of 74 kilometers per hour. Earlier in the day, firemen had managed to put out a blaze on the island of Lesvos and near the Spathovounio toll station on the Corinth-Tripolis national road. In what turned out to be a busy weekend for the fire service, a major fire broke out on Saturday in a forest near the Peloponnesian town of Pylos. Five firefighting aircraft and 35 firemen were needed to put out the blaze. Saturday also saw the authorities put out blazes in Keratea, east of Athens, and on the islands of Andros and Evia, among others. Coming just weeks after the devastating fire on Mount Parnitha, authorities were on high alert for forest fires. Meanwhile, Parnitha’s chief forester, Giorgos Amorgianiotis, told Sunday’s Kathimerini that it would take more than 100 years for the fir trees burned in the fire to be replaced. «If a fir forest is burned, you have to wait 20-30 years at least before you plant firs again, then you need at least another 30 years before they grow,» said Amorgianiotis. Data from a study by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki published in Sunday’s Kathimerini indicates that more than 1.5 million hectares of forest and scrub land have been burned over the last 50 years. This weekend’s gale force winds also inconvenienced travelers as a number of hydrofoils and ferries were not allowed to leave port. More than 3,000 passengers were stranded as the Aeolos Kenteris ferry could not travel from Piraeus to Crete and hydrofoils could not undertake journeys between the islands of Syros, Paros, Naxos, Santorini, Ios, Myconos, Sifnos and Folegandros.

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