Greece — A hot dry summer coupled with murderous arsonists has resulted in the deaths of at least 60 people, as devastating brush fires continue to rage uncontrolled across large parts of Greece. The tinder dry brush and the rugged terrain have hampered firefighters efforts to control the multiple blazes.
Authorities indicated that many of the fires, which have been raging since Friday, have been deliberately set. Police have arrested some suspects, and the government has offered rewards of between 100,000 and 1 Million ($135,000 and $1.35 million) for information leading to the arrest of arsonists.
Two teenagers have been arrested on suspicion of setting a fire around the northern town of Kavala. A 65 year old man has been arrested on charges of arson and multiple counts of murder. He’s suspected of starting a fire, which killed six people in Areopolis, in the far south of Greece.
Greece has suffered through a long hot, summer with temperatures over 40°C (102° F), creating extreme fire hazards, especially in the Peloponnesian Peninsula. Areas south of Athens and in the north on the island of Evia have also been the scene of multiple fires. Olympia, the historical site of the original games, which houses a museum of priceless archaeological treasures, is also under threat from the flames.
The estimated 170 fires that have broken out over the past four days have overwhelmed the country’s firefighters. Help has come from France and Germany. Both countries have sent water-dropping planes and fire crews. European Union authorities are also working to send in more firefighters. 500 Greek soldiers have been pressed into service to assist local firefighters.