Three firemen killed and one hurt in Cretan blaze

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Posted by on 12 Jul 2007

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In an unfortunate incident yesterday, three firefighters lost their lives, while a fourth is suffering from serious injuries, while battling a forest fire on Crete. In what was termed as a low-danger fire by local officials, the firefighters found themselves trapped suddenly in a deadly blaze as wind direction suddenly changed.

The fire started in a gorge within the Doxaro area, located outside the city of Rethymno, on the northeast coast of Crete. The three firemen killed in the incident, aged between 34 and 40, were on seasonal contracts and had almost 20 years of firefighting experience between them. The fourth firefighter who sustained serious injuries from the blaze, which started at around 2 pm is currently hospitalized.

Local officials revealed that the firefighters were trapped in the blaze when the wind suddenly changed directions, making it impossible for them to escape from the fire, which had surrounded them, by then. The fourth firefighter, sustained 40 percent burns on his body, a quarter of which are of second degree.

Vyron Polydoras, Public Order Minister, said “We honor them as genuine heroes for their sacrifice and unfortunate deaths”. He further added that, during training exercises, extra stress is laid on the safety of human life of not just firefighters but also others present at the scene.

An internal investigation has begun on the incident, even as the fire, fanned by strong winds, continued to burn on four different places yesterday afternoon. 54 firefighters, 13 fire trucks and even a water dropping helicopter are currently fighting the blaze.

Particularly after the dry winter, this summer has witnessed a lot of forest fires in Greece. Since 1998, 16 firefighters have been killed while on duty, of which 7 have been involved in forest fire operations, revealed an official survey.

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