Man charged with arson after forest fire in Athens

Man charged with arson after forest fire in Athens

18 August 2007

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GREEK authorities arrested a man on suspicion of intentionally starting a huge forest fire that destroyed dozens of homes in Athens’ affluent northern suburbs, officials said yesterday.

The fire brigade said the 57-year-old Greek man, whose name was not released, would be charged today with arson in connection with the Mount Penteli fire.

Firefighters brought the blaze under partial control yesterday. The fire broke out at four separate places on Thursday on the mountain and quickly swept through tinder-dry pine forest.

Gale-force winds fanned the flames and prevented water-dropping aircraft from reaching the scene for nearly two hours. Authorities evacuated homes, two clinics and a summer camp. No injuries were reported.

Officials said the blaze destroyed 38 homes and 27 cars, while a further 55 houses were damaged. An unspecified number of sheep were killed.

The four fires broke out about the same time in places less than a mile apart. By yesterday, firefighters had extinguished all major fronts and remained on alert in case winds rekindled the blaze. The three affected districts – Nea Penteli, Melissia and Kifissia – were under a declared state of emergency.

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