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Video Shows Point Where Deadly Greek Wildfire Started

August 21, 2018

ATHENS – With no cause yet officially determined, a surveillance camera outside a house on Mt. Penteli in a northern Athens suburb shows where fire officials believe the worst of the July 23 wildfires began, spreading quickly in heavy winds to overwhelm the seaside village of Mati, leaving 96 dead.

With a probe widening into a chaotic response by authorities, the video footage obtained by Kathimerini showed how fast the fire spread after it began in a clearing outside a house in a region that was destroyed in 2007 deadly fires.

The video, taken from a security camera at a home in the Daou area shows a fire breaking out in a clearing between houses at 4.41 p.m. and rapidly spreading over the next few minutes, whipped by high winds.

But it took firefighters more than 30 minutes to respond with the fire service working on other blazes at Kineta west of Athens, and Neos Voutzas, near the ignition point and above Mati. By tht time, it was too late to contain the inferno that spread like liquid lava.

Members of the police’s anti-arson unit have been questioning residents of Daou whose houses faced the clearing where the fire broke out, the paper said, with depositions so far directing blame at a 65-year-old neighbor who allegedly burned wood outside his home and is a key suspect in an investigation also aimed at officials for the confused response, with no disaster or evacuation plans in place and families of victims lining up to sue government officials.

Residents of Rafina and Marathonas who saw their homes destroyed the fires staged a protest outside Parliament on the night of Aug. 20, calling on the government to provide “immediate and substantial” relief with aid promised and the razing of severely-damaged homes underway.

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