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Politics

Mitsotakis Says Arson Being Probed in Massive Mt. Penteli Fire

ATHENS – A fire that ravaged the capital’s northern neighborhood around Mt. Penteli – little more than a decade after another scourged the land and burned thousands of trees – will be investigated for possible arson.

“We cannot rule anything out at the moment, but we’ll have more information when the Fire Brigade’s investigation is completed. Certainly for Penteli, the case of arson is not ruled out,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told reporters.

That came after a meeting with Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides and the premier added that, “I believe that all authorities did their best with a very quick and timely presence, with great mobilization of the state apparatus, and above all with a much better coordination compared to what we had seen in the past,” said Kathimerini.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes as the wildfire threatened mountainside suburbs with teams of firefighters aided by water-dropping aircraft taking three days to control it.

Local officials said homes had been burned or damaged but there were no reports of injuries or stranded people. A children’s hospital in the area was also evacuated, officials said, Al Jazeera reported.

While there was blast furnace heat in Greece in 2021, and more than 321,240 acres were destroyed in hundreds of fires, the country has been mostly spared from volcano heat spreading across Europe, killing hundreds.

In April – 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, the New Democracy government said it would look at imposing stiffer penalties for negligent fires.

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

“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.

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