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Saturday, July 18

Greece Fire Sale, Continued: My, my what a bunch of pyromaniacs

ATHENS (USA TODAY) - "Much of Greece was ablaze Friday as authorities suspected arson in more than 50 fires that might be linked to protests over austerity measures forced on Greeks by European creditors as the price for a new $96 billion bailout."

(ASSOCIATED PRESS) "Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said it was likely that at least some of the fires were the result of arson, and ordered the armed forces to patrol forests and woodlands across the country as a preventative measure."

"Update: it appears that far from accidental, there may be an arson element behind these events. According to Greek ERT1 TV, "66 wildfires broke out simultaneously", which is highly improbable without human intervention, begging the question: is someone employing "scorched earth" tactics with Germany's latest vassal state?" - From Zero Hedge, July 17. Greece is Burning, Literally

For my theory about the scorched earth tactics, see these Pundita posts:
Greece Fire Sale (July 9)
Greece: Water, water everywhere but how much to spare? (July 10)Bingo! Greece "may" have to sell islands to help finance its bailout deal (July 13)

Wildfires approaching Athens, June 17, 2015



(Below) Smoke from a fire travels over the eastern suburbs of Athens on Friday, July 17, 2015. Another fire in Peloponnese, in southern Greece, is burning out of control. (AP / Thanassis Stavrakis)


More photos on the fires at Zero Hedge and Google Images

Elena Becatoros, The Associated Press
Friday, July 17, 2015 6:56AM EDT - Updated 6:46PM EDT

ATHENS, Greece -- Greek firefighters battled large fires in the south, on the outskirts of Athens and on an island near the capital Friday as flames fed by strong winds forced the evacuation of villages and summer camps. About 200 people trapped by one fire were plucked off a beach by rescue boats.

In all, firefighters were battling 59 fire fronts, mainly in southern Greece and near the capital.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Greece had requested help from his country's army and air force, as well as the European emergency response centre, to fight the blazes.

France was sending two Canadair firefighting aircraft and a Beechcraft reconnaissance plane along with expert teams, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said. The aircraft and teams were to fly to Greece on Saturday. France helped Greece fight forest fires in August 2014.

Tsipras was holding an emergency meeting Friday night with the head of the armed forces, the defence and interior ministers, the head of the civil protection agency and the head of Greece's secret services.

Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said it was likely that at least some of the fires were the result of arson, and ordered the armed forces to patrol forests and woodlands across the country as a preventative measure.

"All forces are on alert," Tsipras said, noting that the hot, dry and windy conditions were making firefighting more difficult.

The most severe fire was a massive blaze in the Lakonia area in the Peloponnese, southern Greece, where at least three villages were evacuated.

Rescue boats battled gale-force winds to reach about 200 people who had taken refuge in a bay, ferrying them to safety, the coast guard said. Twelve other people were rescued from a separate beach, it said.

Two helicopters, 120 firefighters and nearly 30 soldiers were fighting the Lakonia blaze, which local media said burned through electric pylons, cutting off electricity to the southern island of Kythira. Two pilots were slightly injured when their firefighting plane had to make an emergency landing.

Another major fire burned across a large swathe of Mount Ymittos on the outskirts of the Greek capital, blanketing parts of southern Athens in smoke and threatening houses in outlying neighbourhoods. Strong winds fanned the flames across the mountainside, hampering efforts by water-dropping planes and helicopters that continued flying sorties as night fell.

A third major fire broke out Friday afternoon north of the capital in Malakasa, where more than 120 children were being evacuated from summer camps, mayor Thomas Rousis told state television.

Firefighters were also tackling at least three other blazes, one near Athens, another in the southern area of Argolida in the Peloponnese, and a third on the island of Evia, northwest of the capital.

Forest and brush fires are common during Greece's hot, dry summers. In 2007, massive forest fires ravaged southern Greece, devastating dozens of villages and killing about 60 people.

[END REPORT]

Greece battles 50 fires authorities suspect were lit to protest bailout
Dani Vergou and Eric Lyman, Special for USA TODAY
July 17, 2015 - 2:48 PM EDT
USA TODAY

ATHENS — Much of Greece was ablaze Friday, as authorities suspected arson in more than 50 fires that might be linked to protests over austerity measures forced on Greeks by European creditors as the price for a new $96 billion bailout.

The government declared a state of emergency in parts of the country and evacuated people living near the blazes, which have caused power outages. One of the largest fires was on the outskirts of Athens. It covered the sky over the capital in grey smoke and sent firefighting helicopters and airplanes rushing to the scene.

The number and intensity of the blazes forced the cash-strapped Greek government to ask for help from nearby countries, including — notably — Germany, the country many in Greece blame for insisting on the hard-line terms of the bailout plan. Germany is a major creditor of Greece.

[Rest of report doesn't discuss the fires; talks about financial crisis]




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