Rafina Mayor: There was No Time or Order to Evacuate as Fire Approached
There was no order from the competent authorities, nor time, to evacuate when the fire front turned towards Mati, said Rafina Mayor Vangelis Bournous.
Speaking to the Greek Reporter, the mayor of the East Attica municipality said that the firefighting forces did not anticipate that the direction of the strong winds would turn towards Mati, so they did not give evacuation orders.
Bournous said that the sudden and unexpected change of the direction of the wind caught everyone unprepared. It took 10 minutes to reach Marathon Highway from up north and 15 minutes to move south and burn everything all the way to the coast of Mati.
However, the mayor said, even if an evacuation order was given, due to the road planning at Mati, it would be impossible for people to evacuate in one and a half hour, much less in 15 minutes.
People in Mati saw the flames approaching fast and moved to the beaches. They went into the water to save themselves from the flames that were reaching thirty meters into the sea. He said that it was impossible for boats to come from the sea and take those people out. Furthermore, he said, the smoke and the fumes were suffocating and there was no visibility even from the rescue boats that arrived hours later.
However, Bournous said, authorities should have asked for the help of the Greek Navy and the coast guard earlier, as soon as they found out that the only way out for Mati residents was by sea.
The Rafina mayor noted that at this point we should not be looking for who is guilty of the destruction but for ways to rebuild the town of Mati and prevent such disasters. He said that his main concern is to revive the town so that the people who have lost everything to have a home can have a home and a life again.
The “revival” project will begin by removing all the burned trees and the construction of ravines and roads. All illegal buildings on ravines or the coastline will be demolished, the owners will be compensated, and houses will be rebuilt based on proper town planning regulations. He said he believes that the project will be completed in one year.
The mayor thanked people from all over the world and the Greeks of Diaspora who sent funds to help the victims of the fires and said that the funds will be used for rebuilding the fire-stricken town, but with proper infrastructure this time.
Source: Greek Reporter
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