Italian, French planes join effort to put out fire on Rhodes

Italian, French planes join effort to put out fire on Rhodes

25 July 2008

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Greece — Firefighters on Friday battled for a fourth day to put out a large forest fire on the Greek island of Rhodes, with Italy and France sending planes to help, fire officials said, AFP reports.

“Inhabited areas are not in threat but we are worried by a forecast of strong winds today,” a fire department press officer told AFP.
The Aegean island is one of Greece’s top tourist destinations.

Thirty-four 34 fire engines, 160 firefighters, 100 soldiers and 13 aircraft were deployed to contain the blaze in the east of the island, while reinforcements were being rushed in from Athens and northern Greece.

Two Italian waterbombers arrived on Thursday, while two more aircraft from France were expected to arrive by midday.

The fire is believed to have burned around 5,000 hectares (12,350 acres) of forest and brush, news reports said. A 61-year-old man was arrested on Wednesday and charged with fire-raising by negligence.

Last year, devastating forest fires in Greece left 77 people dead and burned 270,000 hectares of forest and farm land.

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