Fires ease to allow start of cleanup

Some 60 fires ravaged forestland and agricultural tracts around the country yesterday but most had been extinguished by nightfall. In the Cretan prefecture of Rethymnon, a two-day fire in the village of Akoumia was curbed after extensive damage to vineyards and fields. Four water-dropping aircraft managed to contain another large blaze in Messinia, in the Peloponese, which reached the edge of the national highway. Water-dropping planes were also mobilized in northwestern Greece after several separate fires in Preveza merged, creating a large front. And disastrous blazes in Pieria, also in northern Greece, were finally brought under control yesterday. A fire on the island of Andros, which broke out at an illegal landfill on Tuesday night, was contained yesterday. Local authorities accused residents of setting the landfill alight in a bid to have it moved. As regards the damage wreaked by hundreds of fires over the past weeks, Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said those affected would receive compensation as soon as the extent of the problem has been assessed. Meanwhile Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias said anti-flood works were progressing on the charred slopes of Mount Parnitha «so we can be finished by winter and avert problems with flooding.» But a presidential decree foreseeing the protection of Parnitha was criticized by local authorities who expressed concerns that it would curb the rights of property owners.