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Northern Peloponnese and Corinth on fire

18 July 2012 / 13:07:41  GRReporter
3544 reads

Victoria Mindova

The firestorm in Zevgolatio, Corinth region, is continuing for the third day in a row. Strong winds and high temperatures make the firemen's work difficult. 87 firefighters, 38 fire-engines, 66 land cars, two aircrafts and a helicopter are fighting the unabated fire.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday morning, a new fire broke out in a farming region near Argyra, Achaia (Peloponnese). The fire has spread from the neighbouring regions Sella and Platani and according to the latest information, it is reaching Upper and Lower Kastritsi. 65 firefighters, 33 fire-engines, 35 men from the land forces, eight aircrafts and one helicopter are taking part in the extinguishing of this fire.

The fire is reaching the regions of Upper and Lower Kastritsi, which are inhabited. At the moment firemen are trying to limit the fire before it spreads to the first houses of the two inhabited places. Patras's Deputy Mayor, Georgios Sigalos, said for Ethnos, that the situation in the region is tragic and the fire is becoming uncontrollable. Firemen, helped by local authorities'representatives, have evacuated Lower Kastritsi residents and are ready to repeat this measure for the nearby villages, if necessary. The University of Patras announced state of emergency and dismissed staff and students. Fires are still far from the city itself, but winds are directing big clouds of smoke towards it. Greek media inform, that in the last 24 hours, dozens of people have been hospitalized due to respiratory problems in the University Hospital of Patras.

The headquarters of the Greek Civil Defence warns, that the regions of high risk are Athens, Corinth, Argolis, Boeotia, Evia, Skyros, Lesbos, Chios, Samos and Ikaria. Greece is ready to ask for air help from Italy, Spain and France, in case the country cannot manage to control the fire by itself later in the day.

GRReporter contacted the press-centre of the Greek Fire-fighting Service, whichsaid that local authorities are doing everything possible to limit the spreading of the fire. Nikolas Tsongas, head of the Public Relations department in the Fire-fighting Service, said that Greece has in total 18 special firefighting aircrafts, of which 14 are available for use daily.

"Our firefighting aircrafts are old, and often break down. We are trying to do everything possible with the sources we have." Greece has signed contracts for cooperation with a number of countries, which, if necessary, can lend additional help for the extinguishment of the fire. In case of need, the country can put into motion the European mechanism for help during disasters, which will provide additional air assistance.

The firefighting forces advise:

- to avoid using flames for any purposes outdoors in periods of strong wind, low humidity and high temperatures

- to avoid all working processes, during which flames or sparks can be started - work with grinding machines, sealing, etc.

- setting stubble on fire is also strictly forbidden

- not to throw still lit cigarettes outside

- one of the most important pieces of advice remains not to throw litter in the environment

"When the average temperature in Greece is 40 degrees Celsius, citizens and visitors of the country should know, that there is a high risk of fires in all regions. Serious attention should be paid when travelling by car. Do not throw in any case litter and cigarettes, when travelling by car. These are the main preconditions for unconsciously set fires and pollution", Tsongas explains. For the insular part of Greece the specialist said, that there is a danger of fires not only in the inhabited islands, but in the ones with low vegetation, which is usually dry grass and bushes. On the Cyclades, the risk is particularly high, because of the traditionally dry winds, blowing in this part of the Mediterranean.

The first action in case citizens or visitors of the country find themselves in a region with burning fires, is to call the firefighting service on 199. They should give a detailed description of the place on fire and, if possible, to say what exactly is burning. The call is free both from mobile and non-mobile phones. "The information, which citizens can give us will help us arrive quite sooner with the appropriate firefighting forces." After they alert the service, citizens can try putting out the fire by any available means, if it is not a big one. Water, blankets, even leafy branches can be used. If the fire is widespread, people should walk away from the burning place, in a direction opposite to the blowing wind.

Tags: Society fires Corinth Achaia
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