Greece puts out Rhodes blaze

Fire is the latest forest fire this summer, amid prolonged hot dry weather.

    Firefighters from France, Italy and Cyprus arrived to help Greeks fight the wildfire [AFP]

    Meanwhile, France, Italy and Cyprus have sent aircraft to help fight the fire.

    A total of 52 fire engines, along with at least 213 firemen and 319 forest rangers, reinforced by more than 100 soldiers and hundreds of local volunteers have been battling the forest fires which forced the evacuation of villagers and tourists.

    The village of Laerma in central Rhodes was particularly threatened by one of the main forest fires, though no homes were burnt and the fire surrounding the village is now said to have been brought under partial control.

    The Rhodes blaze is the latest Greek forest fire this summer, amid prolonged hot dry weather and fanned by strong winds.

    The fires have stirred bitter memories of a 10-day inferno which killed 65 people and plunged the country into a state of emergency last year.

    The government has said lessons have not been learned and effective measures have not been taken while fire officials had complained that they have not been given any extra staff, funding or resources to prevent the on going catastrophe.

    Gavril Xanthopolous, a Greek forest fire researcher, told Al Jazeera: "I think that Greece is somehow better prepared and there is no question that Greece has a very strong fire fighting mechanism.

    "I think there is some science, coordination and better training missing, but overall there is a lot of effort being done," he said.

    "In such situations you don't get results from one year to another, but we could improve much more compared to what our current capacity is by putting more knowledge and better means," Thantapolis said.

    Thantopolis believes that the fires were deliberately started but not as deliberate as many Greeks assume.

    "Fires can happen because of very different sources, not just from separtists who started 20 per cent of the fires in Greece," he said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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