Unlike 1991, Greece had a very “hot” and prolonged fire season during 1992. Up to the end of September, 1815 fires burned 42,000 ha out of which 12,000 ha approximately were high forest. During the same period last year (1991), 791 fires burned 11,800 ha. Thus, on the average, the area burned per fire was 21.3 ha in 1992 as opposed to 14.9 in 1991. The remarkable difference is attributed to heavy spring and summer rainfall during 1991. Also, a new law that permits the former owners of abandoned agricultural fields which have been forested over many years to reclaim them from the State is assumed to have had a very significant effect on the wave of forest fires that swept through Greece during 1992.
The Aegean islands and the Attica peninsula paid the heaviest toll. The fire season started with a 500 ha fire on Lesbos Island and ended on 2 October with a huge 4000 ha fire on Rhodes Island (set accidentally by an apiarist) which burned most of the forests at the southern end of the island and during which a firefighter lost his life. Rhodes forests were also burned 1985 and 1987, causing an extreme ecological loss and a heavy impact on island tourism.
The largest fire of the season was a proven case of incendiarism on the Attica peninsula which burned during 4-5 September, started near Kiourka village, and caused panic in the heavily populated area. Great publicity was given to this fire and the Prime Minister himself was involved in the fire control efforts and rehabilitation of the burned area.
From: Alexander P.Dimitrakopoulos Address: University of the Aegean Department of Environmental Studies 17 Karadoni Str. GR-81 100 Mytilene