Electricity sparks suspected in wildfire

A prosecutor investigating the cause of Saturday’s wildfire northeast of Athens will not have two experts’ reports in his hands until next week but there is already mounting speculation that the blaze started at an electrical substation. The wildfire scorched between 700 and 800 hectares of land between the communities of Varnavas and Kapandriti, starting shortly before noon on Saturday and burning until the early hours of Sunday morning. Several witnesses have told authorities that the fire started at a small Public Power Corporation (PPC) substation in Varnavas that was allegedly surrounded by uncut weeds and wild grasses and posed a major fire risk due to the hot, dry weather and high winds. Prosecutor Dimitris Gyzis visited the area on Sunday along with an expert from the fire brigade and one from PPC. They inspected the substation and the two experts are due to compile their reports on the cause of the fire by next week. However, sources told Kathimerini that Gyzis noticed that PPC site had not been tended to recently. Numerous wildfires have been ignited in the past by sparks given off by electricity pylons or substations. However, PPC sources said that there is no evidence to prove that the company was responsible for Saturday’s blaze, which was the first major wildfire this summer. PPC insists that it draws up a plan each summer to remove any fire hazards from pylons and substations. Meanwhile, the Environment Ministry said that all of the burned land, which mostly consisted of shrubbery, would be replanted and that no construction would be allowed.

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