Inactive alibi |

On June 4, a wildfire broke out in the suburbs of Voula in southern Athens, and firefighters can be seen behind the scenes. [EPA]

The investigation by Greek fire department staff was thorough. They first had to identify where the fire started. Fire movements, wind, vegetation, carbon dioxide emissions, and witness statements by residents before they reach a stream through a Public Power Corporation (PPC) transmission line with a wooden rod with a metal conductor. I examined the measurement criteria of. After that, they had to find out the cause.

There were no signs of stubble burning in nearby fields, and no debris that could justify the first burn. They found no evidence of malicious arson. They even searched for the carcasses of burnt birds that “could cause a fire by touching power lines,” as noted in their report. There were no beehives in the area (a fire can happen by accident while a beekeeper is smoking a hive). However, they found a metal conductor that had fallen and was damaged and noticed that it was showing signs of a short circuit. As the metals reached their melting point, they warped in many places. Some witnesses said they saw sparks.

As long as we blame all the malicious “arsonists”, both the state and its citizens refuse to tackle the problem head-on.

All evidence led to the conclusion in 2013 that a fire that caused enormous damage to businesses, houses, vehicles, warehouses and animals began with PPC power cords in the Vambakopoulo area near Chania, Crete. After spending a very long time in court, the case was finally closed in May 2021, just 10 days before the time limit.

With the spread of fire news each summer, speculation about “organized arson” reappears in national public discourse, but in most cases there is not enough evidence. The larger the scale of the fire, the more intense this speculation can be. This speculation, even if not shared by any official, has been accepted by most of the public opinion as it has been disseminated many times by several governments over the past few decades.

But as long as we blame all the malicious “arsonists”, both the state and its citizens refuse to tackle the problem head-on. A recent fire at Ano Glyfada occurred outside the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator (DEDDIE) substation. Investigations conducted by the Greek fire department reveal the exact cause of it. But for the last few days, everyone has been in the blame game. We are not talking about vast forests that have not been logged from dry vegetation for many years, but about substations near the cityscape. How difficult and expensive is it to clear weeds and dry vegetation around a substation? How long does the duplication of responsibilities between the Bureaucracy and the Forest Department, the municipality, and DEDDIE act as an inactive alibi?

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