Greece has so far faced 8,270 wildfires from the start of this year until mid-August, double the number recorded by the same period last year, according to Fire Brigade statistics, local newspaper “Eleftheros Typos” (Free Press) reported on Saturday.
At least 20 percent of wildfires each year are linked to arson and the usual suspect in most cases is a middle aged local, according to a study made by Andrianos Gourbatsis, a retired Deputy Chief of the Greek Fire Service.
Gourbatsis attributed the increased number of wildfires this year to the local and general elections held in Greece in May and July.
Due to the changing of guard in local and central government, municipalities and various agencies involved in environmental protection failed to take adequate prevention measures this year, he argued speaking to the Greek daily.
The 30 percent of wildfires breaking out nationwide each year in Greece is linked to negligence and 10 percent to natural causes, he said, presenting the results of a survey based on official statistics and data going back to 2000.
Regarding the 20 percent of cases linked to arson, the suspect in 95 percent of incidents is a Greek male, according to the survey.
The 63 percent of suspects detained was over 45 years old and the 99 percent had no psychological problems.
Most of the arsonists are married with children, self-employed in the sectors of agriculture or fishing, living in the countryside, the analysis of data showed.
According to Fire Brigade sources, three locals are suspects under investigation in the case of the wildfire which scorched almost 3,000 hectares of farmland and forested areas on Evia island this week, threatening at least five villages.
One of the suspects is a 33-year-old local who was arrested last year on suspicions of starting nine wildfires in the same wider region, “Eleftheros Typos” reported.
The man was sentenced for at least one case but was eventually released earlier this year on grounds of psychological issues, according to the report.