ATHENS – While a major fire was roaring in the Mt. Penteli area in the Greek capital’s north, a resident took a video of a man apparently setting fire to a grassy area before residents rushed there to put it out.
The video was shown on Greek TV station Alpha and showed a young man dressed in black, at 5:56 a.m., rapidly crossing a two-lane road where there were olive and pine trees and dried grass.
He went beside an olive tree which was away from others but with grass surrounding it, bent down and then ran back across the road just before flames began shooting up from where he was.
“He stopped his car, got out and opened his trunk. He drew my attention. We were awake; the fire was burning above us…I lose him for a second. Then, I see heam leaving and, a few seconds later, flames shoot up,” a witness told Alpha.
While it was very early it was daylight and people were out because the Mt. Penteli fire was burning down the slopes at some distance but visible and high winds had people anxious it would be carried to where they live, some awake all night.
The man was seen by several people, one of whom took the video. Some rushed to the site of the fire with extinguishers to put it out and keep it from spreading in the wind beyond control.
“I saw what he was doing and for a moment wanted to confront him,” another witness said. “But, seeing the flames, I immediately grabbed the extinguisher and ran. The wind was so strong, it was a matter of seconds before the fire spread, as it was doing two kilometers away from us,” he also added.
That occurred while firefighters were trying to contain the Mt. Penteli fire, memories of the July 23, 2018 wildfires that were spread by wind killing 103 people and nearly wiping out the seaside village of Mati northeast of Athens.
According to the weather service, wind gusts were reaching 80 kilometers per hour (50 MPH) at the time. Police are examinig the video for clues.