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After Another Blaze, Greece Mulls Tougher Penalties for Negligent Fires

ATHENS – Four years after wildfires accidently started by a man clearing brush – who still hasn’t been named – killed 102 people and nearly wiped out the village of Mati, Greece’s New Democracy government is looking at imposing stiffer penalties for negligent fires.

The Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection is considering what measures could be taken against people responsible for the outbreak of fires started by accident, which happens frequently in Greece.

With the summer approaching, often seeing wildfires sweep the country, the ministry moved after a blaze in Kassandra, Halkidiki, in northern Greece which was, according to all indications, due to human error, said Kathimerini.

“Many forest fires break out every year due to human negligence,” said Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides, but there’s been no reports if anyone has been prosecuted for it.

“It is a common phenomenon for some citizens to ignore the legislation and the instructions of the authorities and to cause great disasters with their actions. That is why I will start proceedings to strengthen the penalties in cases of fires through negligence,” he said.

He said he will coordinate it with the Justice Ministry and that there are plans to begin an information campaign in late spring to make people aware of the dangers of starting fires near wooded areas.

The summer of 2021 was devastating in Greece, with record heat also seeing hundreds of conflagrations across the country and almost half the island of Evia, Greece’s second-largest, consumed by flames, and destroying agriculture.

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