ATHENS — Wildfires that frequently hit Greece – some said deliberately set to clear forests for development – began earlier this year, wiping out a mountain range west of Athens and another sweeping through a region on the island of Tzia where a tourist project was underway.
The fire in the Geraneia mountains burned some 27.4 square miles of vegetation as it was brought under control on May 24, five days after it began, including 20 square miles of allegedly protected forests.
That made it the “most destructive fire of the decade,” in terms of burned forested area, according to the National Observatory of Athens, said Kathimerini, as no government has moved to bar building on burned-out protected land.
The blaze destroyed pine forests that were under cultural preservation rules, showed analysis from the National Observatory’s Meteo weather service.
The fire, the first major blaze of the summer, started near the village of Schinos near the Gulf of Corinth and moved quickly into west Attica, the Civil Protection Agency said it began when someone was burning vegetation in an olive grove.
That's how a series of wildfires began on July 23, 2018 northeast of Athens, ripping through a wide swath before stopping at the seaside village of Mati that was devastated, leaving 102 people dead.
While the fire in the mountains was being contained, there were still more than 260 firefighters on hand, supported by 71 fire engines, three aircraft, a helicopter and three Pezetel light aircraft, the paper said.
On Tzia, also known as Kea and a popular spot for Greeks as it's only an hour from the mainland, the fire burned across brush and grassland for a second day on May 25, with firefighting reinforcements being sent.
Only one fire engine crewed by three firemen had been battling the flames near Poisses Beach, with volunteers jumping it along with water trucks and other auxiliary vehicles, no cause given yet.