July 20, 2012

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Hellenic Air Force base at Elefsina Threatened By Wild Fires

One serviceman from the Greek Fire Force was killed after he was found trapped during a fire-fighting operation near the Greek air force base of Elefsina, located just a few kilometres away from the capital Athens. The last few days have seen several fires raging in the Athens region, resulting in several casualties and widespread destruction to property.

The Elefsina Air Base is one of the most important installations of the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) in the country, and fires are reported within the boundaries and fringes of the facility. The Elefsina Hellenic Air Force Museum is also located in the town, which is having a population of around 30,000. The Elefsina (Eleusis) town is located some 12 miles to the North of Athens. A large refinery is also located in the town, where the majority of crude oil in Greece is imported and refined.

Constantinos Grapsas, senior Greek firefighting official claimed that the air base is not under threat from the fires and its progress has been contained. He informed the media that a total of 40 water tenders, and one helicopter is trying to put down the fire. Close to 160 fire-fighters are also deployed in the region, to prevent any damage to the military equipment.

Although forest fires are frequent in Greece during the summer months, rarely things get this worse. Today, two fire-fighters were hospitalized for their injuries, in a separate incident which occurred in the island of Salamina, located in the region of Attica, some 10 miles west of the capital city.

Salamina is having a mostly rocky and mountainous terrain, with most of the area covered by crown forests. A pine forest is located in the Southern part of the island, which is very popular with tourists from the nearby Athens. Unfortunately, the popularity also means that the forest is a frequent target of arson attacks by hooligans. The authorities refused to reveal the identity of the deceased fire-fighter, only saying that he was 28 years old.

According to the officials, the fire-fighter was admitted to the hospital due to serious injuries, where he breathed his last. This year’s forest fires are believed to be the biggest one ever since the 2007 forest fires, in which close to 60 people were killed.

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