Greek intelligence services have been called to investigate suspected arson as fire rages across the Island of Chios for the fifth day. During the last three days 282 fires have broken out across Greece.
As wildfires rage across the Greek islands of Chios and Zakynthos, and the mainlands' Peloponnese, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias has called on Greece's intelligence services (EYP) to hunt down suspected arsonists.
Speaking of the fires in Chios which are now burning for a fifth day, Dendias said “There are indications, if not proof, that the fires on Chios are due to arson and we have therefore mobilized together with the fire service, the police and the National Intelligence Service."
Ekathimerini reported Constantinos Ganiaris of Chios said “Effectively, half the island has been burned.” Chios is famed for its many acres of mastic trees which provide nearly a quarter of the world's supplies of mastic. Farming mastic trees provides an income for 3,000 families on the island, and the fires have wrought irreparable damage to the industry. The Chios Mastic Growers Association estimates the crop damages will come to around 4 million euros.
According to NASA smoke from fires in Chios was carried as far as Crete, 230 miles away.
A spokesman for the Greek fire service, Nikos Tsongas, said the fires "may be the product of orchestrated arson attacks." He pointed out that four of the fires raging in Zakynthos "started almost simultaneously at different points of the Ionian island."
Firefighters face an immense challenge in controlling the fires which are exacerbated by yet another heatwave which broke out on Thursday, coupled with gales.