Heavy rainfall during the month of August was partly responsible for one of the best years in Greece’s wildland fire history in terms of total area burned. During 1991, a total of 1,118 fires burned only 21,227 ha (4,730 ha forests, 11,598 ha brushlands, 4,900 ha pastures). The fire causes are distributed as follows: 16% negligence, 11% arson, 4% lightning, 69% unknown (most can be attributed to arson).
A novelty was that, for the first time in Greece, Soviet professional forest firefighters were employed by the Greek government in order to be prepared to support fire control. Also, during 1991 the budget allocation for forest fire suppression was U.S. $ 31,000,000, the highest amount ever.
Severe Forest Fires at Lesbos Island
Before the 1992 fire season was officially declared in Greece (1 June-30 October), a severe forest fire incident occurred on Lesbos island on 16 May 1992, forecasting a bad fire year. Lesbos island is located in the Northern Aegean Sea, a mile off the Turkish coast. It is the third largest Greek island covered by magnificent forests of Brute Pine (Pinus brutia). The fire burned over an area of 1,100 ha which consisted of forest regeneration and mature forest of Brute pine, located in the centre of the island. The same area was burned before in 1977.
The fire started at 05:00 hrs in a remote and inaccessible area. According to official sources the fire was started by arson. Unofficial rumors connect the fire incident with the formal visit of the President of the Republic of Cyprus on the island the same day. Extremely strong winds (9-10 Beaufort scale) during the fire rendered suppression efforts ineffective and the use of aircrafts impossible.
Short Course on Forest Fire Prevention at the Mediterranean Region
The Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania, Greece (M.A.I.Ch.) is offering a short, intensive Course on Forest Fire Prevention in the Mediterranean region in November 1992. The official language will be English. Scholarships covering full or part of the cost are available to qualified applicants. The course covers principles of fire ecology, fire prevention and fire management, including prescribed burning, as applied to Mediterranean forests. It is addressed to foresters, biologists, and other geotechnical scientists who work on forest fire suppression. For further information please contact:
Dr. George Lyrintzis Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania P.O.Box 85 GR-73 100 Chania
Phone: +30-821-81153 Fax: +30-821-81154
From: Dr. Alexander P.Dimitrakopoulos Address: University of the Aegean Department of Environmental Studies 17 Karadoni Str. GR-81 100 Mytilene