High winds fuel more blazes

Firefighters remained on standby yesterday afternoon in Kalamos, a coastal area north of Athens, after managing to bring under control a large blaze that ravaged a significant chunk of forestland as strong winds continued to blow in the area. Traffic police closed off the road connecting Aghioi Apostoloi and Angona, where the blaze is believed to have broken out near an illegal landfill, frequently the site of fires in summer. The fire split into several fronts which firemen had managed to reduce to two by late in the afternoon. There were no reports of any homes being threatened by the blaze. Meanwhile in Magoula, western Attica, a large fire that had broken out on Thursday continued to burn on two fronts though less fiercely as strong winds eased off slightly. Nevertheless, over 300 firefighters remained on standby with 50 fire engines following a series of water drops by four airplanes and five helicopters. The blaze, which destroyed a factory and several warehouses and threatened a customs storage facility, also razed an estimated 800 hectares of forestland. In a bid to prevent other fires breaking out and threatening homes as the Magoula blaze had done, local authorities imposed a 24-hour ban on access to all local forestland. It also called for the help, if necessary, of local residents, who had contributed to firefighting efforts on Thursday using water hoses and buckets. On Zakynthos, local authorities blamed arsonists for a series of fires that have razed different parts of the Ionian island over the past few days. Yesterday alone there were reports of three blazes on the island, in sections of forestland in the areas of Stomia, Volimes and Maries. «This is an organized plan – there is no other explanation for what has been happening on Zakynthos,» said Nikolaos Theodosis, the mayor of Elatia, where one of the many blazes broke out. More than 100 forest fires were reported in different parts of Greece on Thursday and yesterday.