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  • #91
    August 28th

    Greece-Fires-Fact Sheet

    Fires still rage in Greece, sparking anger

    -- Broke out Thursday.
    -- Burned almost 500,000 acres in first 3 days.
    -- Northern border with Albania to southern island of Crete.
    -- Nationwide state of emergency declared Saturday.
    -- 410 million dollars for immediate relief.
    -- Tuesday: more wildfires broke out, others rekindled.

    -- At least 64 people dead.
    -- Vast stretches of Greek countryside charred.
    -- Villages and livestock destroyed.

    -- Foreign firefighters and aircraft helping.
    -- Firefighters from 21 countries.
    -- Most foreign firefighters operating in the Peloponnese.

    -- Greeks furious after deadly forest fires in June and July.
    -- Accuse conservative government of inadequate effort.
    -- Many say response to latest crisis was disorganized.
    -- Government suggested possibility of arson.
    -- Fires dominating political debate ahead of September 16th
    -- Athens newspaper: ballot will be "the elections of rage."

    -- Fire department: "The picture we have gives us some
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com


    • #92
      August 28th

      ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Foreign firefighters and aircraft joined
      in battling wildfires Tuesday that have burned nearly a
      half-million acres and killed 64 people in five days in what
      Greece's president called a "national catastrophe."
      The devastating blazes have infuriated Greeks - already stunned
      by deadly forest fires in June and July - and appear likely to
      dominate political debate before general elections scheduled for
      Sept. 16. Many blamed the conservative government for failing to
      respond quickly enough.
      Firefighters themselves have also come under criticism as
      disorganized and late to arrive. Some people also blamed a previous
      government's decision in 1998 to transfer responsibility for
      battling blazes from the forestry department to the national fire
      The country's worst fires in memory have burned olive groves,
      forests, orchards and homes, and the government budgeted upward of
      $410 million for immediate relief, although the bill was expected
      to be much higher, the Finance Ministry said.
      Southern Greece, where the flames reached the birthplace of the
      Olympic Games in Ancient Olympia, was the worst area affected,
      although one fire official said there were signs of optimism in the
      New blazes broke out faster than others could be brought under
      control, leaving behind a landscape of blackened tree trunks,
      gutted houses and dead livestock.
      The mayor of Zaharo, in the western Peloponnese, said the body
      of a missing shepherd had been found Monday. Rescuers were still
      searching for another shepherd missing from the nearby village of
      Artemida, where 23 people, including a mother and her four
      children, died on Aug. 24.
      Some 56 new fires broke out Monday and Tuesday, the fire
      department said. The latest outbreak came outside Athens in
      Grammatiko, near ancient Marathon.
      "It is a national tragedy," said President Karolos Papoulias.
      "This is a national catastrophe."
      Firefighting efforts were concentrating on one front burning in
      the Seta area of Evia, and on the village of Matesi, near Zaharo in
      the western Peloponnese. Most of the firefighters who have arrived
      from 21 countries are operating in the Peloponnese, spokesman Nikos
      Diamandis said.
      A group of 55 Israeli firefighters were sent to one of the worst
      fires in Krestena, near Ancient Olympia. Parts of the
      2,800-year-old World Heritage site were burned over the weekend,
      although the ancient ruins and the museum were unscathed.
      By Tuesday, the site was open to visitors, and a few dozen
      tourists walked around the charred area.
      According to the European Commission's European Forest Fire
      Information System, 454,447 acres of forests, groves and scrubland
      were burned between Aug. 24-26.
      It also said that for this year's fire season to date, 664,020
      acres have burned. The previous worst year was 2000, when 358,231
      acres were blackened around Greece.
      Meanwhile, a strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5
      struck the fire-ravaged area in the south, panicking residents, but
      there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
      Diamandis said 18 planes and 18 helicopters - including four
      from Switzerland - would be used in the southern firefighting
      "The picture we have gives us some optimism" in the south,
      Diamandis said. "We have a good picture and hope for some good
      From the northern border with Albania to the southern island of
      Crete, fires ravaged forests and farms. Residents used garden
      hoses, buckets, tin cans and branches in desperate attempts to save
      their homes and livelihoods.
      "We have been destroyed, we have nothing left," cried Katerina
      Andonopoulou, a 76-year-old woman trudging from the edge of Ancient
      Olympia to her destroyed house in the nearby village of Platano
      laden with a bundle of leaves for the five surviving goats from her
      flock of 20. "Who will help us now?"
      In many villages, people refused to board helicopters sent to
      take them to safety.
      "We are asking people to be calm and to follow orders,"
      Diamandis said. Greece's civil defense agency said the fire threat
      remained high because of high winds and temperatures, especially in
      the Athens region.
      The government, which declared a state of emergency over the
      weekend, said arson might have been the cause of the fires, and
      several people have been arrested. A prosecutor on Monday ordered
      an investigation into whether arson attacks could come under
      Greece's anti-terrorism and organized crime laws.
      In the past, unscrupulous land developers have been blamed for
      setting fires to try to circumvent laws that do not allow
      construction on forest land.
      Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said Saturday it could not be
      coincidence that so many fires broke out simultaneously in so many
      areas, implying that arsonists were at work.
      The main opposition Socialist Party leader George Papandreou
      accused the government of fabricating conspiracy theories about the
      fires and also said it was unable to protect lives and property.
      "Unfortunately, the government of Mr. Karamanlis has
      disappointed the Greek people. It has been woefully unable to deal
      with the major issue of the fires all summer," Papandreou said.
      Criticism also has arisen about a decision by a previous
      government in 1998 to change jurisdiction in fighting wildfires.
      "We used to have one service that fought the fires where they
      broke out, and a second that focused on protecting homes," said
      Nikos Bokaris, head of the Panhellenic Union of Forestry Experts.
      "Now there is nobody in the forests, and the fire brigades take up
      positions in village squares and streets."
      Associated Press writers Nicholas Paphitis and Patrick Quinn in
      Athens contributed to this report.
      Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
      Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

      *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
      On the web at www.section2wildfire.com


      • #93
        VICTORIA (CP) - Canada has five water bombers and three support
        aircraft ready to fly to Greece to help beat down the devastating
        wild fires that have killed scores and threatened ancient
        historical sites.
        "We received a request from the Greek embassy through our
        foreign affairs office Monday," said Tom Johnston, operations
        manager of the Interagency Forest Fire Centre in Winnipeg.
        Initially a number of land-based aircraft were offered up by
        provincial management agencies, but Greece is not set up for that
        kind of fire-fighting.
        A second call was put out for water-based bombers, which fill
        their tanks by skimming across a lake or the sea.
        "We've had responses from British Columbia, Alberta and
        Manitoba indicating their skimmer operations could be made
        available," Johnston said.
        British Columbia has offered one of two giant Martin Mars
        bombers, which are Second World War-vintage flying boats under
        private ownership. As well, a "bird dog" spotter plane and an air
        attack officer to lead the operations are available.
        Alberta and Manitoba have each offered a pair of Canadair
        CL-215s, plus spotters planes and air attack personnel.
        "These packages have been put together and sent to foreign
        affairs," Johnston said late Tuesday.
        If the offer is accepted, it would mean long flights for the
        planes and crews.
        "They'd have to go through Newfoundland, probably jump off at
        Gander, I'm assuming, to Greenland, Iceland, the British Isles and
        then down into Greece through Europe," he said, estimating that it
        would take at least three days of flight time, plus several days
        preparation prior to departure and time to set up once they
        "Could be four, five or six days before they're ready to go to
        Johnston said Canadian teams regularly go to the United States,
        and have been sent to South America and even the Galapagos Islands
        in the past.
        He was not aware of any previous requests from Europe.
        And if the request had come at the height of the Canadian summer
        season, it would likely not have been possible. But the end of the
        forest fire season is approaching.
        "It's a little more acceptable to allow our big assets to go on
        an international front, but even so, we aren't at the end of our
        season yet," he said, adding that southcentral B.C. is still hot
        and dry, as is southwestern Alberta.
        Johnston said he hoped to hear back on the package offer as
        quickly as possible.
        "Obviously time is of the essence."
        Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
        Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

        *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
        On the web at www.section2wildfire.com


        • #94
          Croatia Firefighters

          Six firemen die in Croatian island blaze
          ZAGREB, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Six Croatian firemen died and
          seven others were injured while fighting a huge blaze on an
          uninhabited island in the central Adriatic, police said on
          They said in a statement carried by state news agency Hina
          that the fire started in a bay on the Kornat island, which is
          part of the picturesque Kornati archipelago national park.
          The archipelago is largely uninhabited but its scenic beauty
          and crystal-clear sea draws hundreds of tourists and yachts
          every summer.
          The Jutarnji List daily said the firemen were trapped on a
          high ground when strong sudden winds changed direction. The six
          died on the spot and seven others were taken to hospital with
          various degrees of burns.
          Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, who visited the injured firemen
          in hospital in Zadar called for an investigation to determine if
          the fire was deliberate. Police said that eight people have been
          detained for questioning on suspicion of arson.
          "At first I could not believe the news of this tragedy. This
          is beyond words," Sanader said.
          Forest fires killed 63 people in Greece and left thousands
          Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
          Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

          *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
          On the web at www.section2wildfire.com


          • #95
            PYRGOS, Greece, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Greek villages on
            Thursday started burying relatives killed by forest fires that
            were still burning parts of the country for a sixth day as
            thousands rushed to collect damage compensation from banks.
            Police arrested 15 people suspected of fraudulently claiming
            the immediate 3,000 euros ($4,000) payment the government was
            handing out in the affected areas to try to show it was
            providing fast relief for the fires that have killed 63 people.
            Less than three weeks before a parliamentary election,
            critics accused the conservative government of responding
            chaotically to the fires and said its compensation system was
            open to widespread fraud and offended people's dignity.
            "This is far too easy and far too chaotic," said Gerasimos
            Paraskevopoulos, mayor of the town of Pyrgos in the southern
            Peloponnese, where hundreds crowded outside a bank. "The money
            should be distributed by local councils who know their
            Some people admitted they had come from as far away as
            Athens and Thessaloniki, about 600 km (370 miles) north.
            "Hundreds of Gypsies have come here who don't live here,"
            said Gerasimos Halilopoulos, a Roma from Pyrgos, told Reuters.
            "It is making my life difficult because I need the money."
            The system required filling out a simple form, to be checked
            later, to claim the cash and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis
            said the simplified system was the right thing.
            "The order is 'move fast', without any delay. We're removing
            bureaucratic hurdles. Nothing should stand in the way of us
            doing our duty," he told a news briefing.

            Karamanlis's handling of the crisis could be crucial for his
            hopes for re-election on Sept. 16. In two days, 72.4 million
            euros were handed to about 20,000 people, the government said.
            A cartoon in the centre-right newspaper Kathimerini showed a
            helicopter flying over scorched countryside dropping banknotes
            from a water bucket while the pilot says: "Yes prime minister,
            as agreed, we're dropping 100-euro bills so the land will turn
            green again."
            Vast swaths of countryside have been burned and more than
            500 homes were razed in what have been Europe's most extensive
            wildfires in a decade, according to the European Space Agency.
            In the village of Anilio, hundreds gathered to bury a forest
            warden killed trying to save a mother and her four children from
            the flames, only five days after he began the job. The woman was
            found dead, the bodies of her children in her arms.
            On Thursday 24 fires raged on, mainly in the western
            Peloponnese and the island of Evia, north of Athens, the fire
            brigade said.
            The government said the fires would cost Greece at least 1.2
            billion euros ($1.6 billion) but would not derail efforts to cut
            the budget. Athens said it planned to seek European Union
            emergency aid.
            European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said
            Greece would not be left alone in its hour of need.
            "This is also a European disaster," he said in a statement.
            "At this sad time it is good to stress that solidarity is at the
            heart of European vision."
            Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyanni thanked foreign ambassadors
            in Athens for their countries' firefighting help and said Greece
            would make sure Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic
            Games, which was licked by the flames, would be fully restored.
            The government has said arsonists started the fires and most
            Greeks believe rogue developers are burning forests to make way
            for new construction.
            "We are determined that not the smallest piece of land will
            not be reforested. Nobody will build on burnt land," Bakoyanni
            (Additional reporting by Robin Pomeroy and Michele Kambas)
            Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
            Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

            *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
            On the web at www.section2wildfire.com


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