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Fires on Pelion, Parnitha doused July 7, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News.
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Fire services on Mount Parnitha and in Pelion, near Volos, remained on alert last night after managing to contain new blazes that had broken out on Thursday in the two locations, already ravaged by fire in major blazes last week.

The new fires broke out on Thursday afternoon and spread rapidly as they were fanned by winds reaching 8 on the Beaufort scale. It is unclear whether the new blazes were kindled from the embers of earlier fires at these locations or the work of arsonists.

Firefighters were also summoned to tackle two other blazes, in Prodromos, in Viotia, and Kokla, in Messinia. Thessaloniki’s fire service was also busy yesterday after a large blaze broke out in a branch of Praktiker, the home improvement store, in the Municipality of Pylaia. According to the fire service, the blaze broke out in the early hours in a warehouse containing wooden products and flammable goods. Fueled by the flammable liquids, it spread quickly but was extinguished by yesterday evening. It is unclear how the blaze started.

Citizens protesting the government’s failure to protect Mount Parnitha and other stretches of Greek forestland from destruction are due to stage a protest outside Parliament at noon tomorrow. Three protest rallies are also scheduled for tomorrow morning at the foot of Mount Parnitha.

Taking measures after the fires > Supreme Court prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas’s memo to all forest rangers yesterday calling on them to be on the lookout for any illegal building activity and instructing them to knock down any such structures sounded an optimistic note.

Sure, the damage has been done: Tens of thousands of hectares of forestland have been burned to the ground and construction demolition is not going to bring them back. However, such mobilization can prevent future catastrophes and here lies the responsibility of the state: It must implement the law and be on the alert for any wrongdoing. More than 300,000 illegal buildings still await inspection and punishment. We know that in order to crack down on law-breaking and environmental destruction, we need steady political will.

Even such after-the-event measures are needed to avoid the worse. It’s never too late.

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