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Lack of communication between Fire Service and Police during deadly Athens wildfire

Official documents proving the disorganization of Fire Service and Police on the day of the deadly wildfires in Athens are on their way to prosecutor investigating the causes and responsibilities that led to the death 0f 91 people. There was no proper coordination, no organization and no communication between the two services assigned with the rescue of people, more and more servicemen denounce to media.

According to Police records, the Fire Service did not officially inform the Police about the fire, and firefighters on the spot had to call  the police for the evacuation of people trapped in the fires.

“The briefing of Police Headquarters about the wildfire was exclusively by police forces on the spot, ” official police documents seen by daily Kathimerini reveal.

There was no communication between Greece’s fire service and the country’s police force on the night of July 23 when huge wildfires in Attica led to the deaths of dozens of people, Kathimerini has learned.

Following revelations of a deficient firefighting strategy, which led to one helicopter running out of fuel and another losing communication with ground forces, Kathimerini has seen official documents indicating that multiple calls from Attica Police headquarters to the headquarters of the fire service in Halandri went unanswered.

There was nobody to answer the five emergency phone numbers, the documents reveal.

“The Fire Service did not inform the Police about the danger and the route of the blaze,” the chairman of Police Officers Union said in an interview adding “we had no information until the fire crossed over Marathonos Avenue at 6:10 p.m.”

The claims are in writing and are to go to Athens prosecutor Ilias Zagoraios, who is overseeing an investigation into who or what should be held accountable for the fires.

The only call from the fire service to the police that was recorded that night, Kathimerini understands, was to the emergency line ‘100’ by a fireman seeking help to rescue people trapped in a burning house in Neos Voutzas.

Initial investigations have indicated that a deficient strategy in responding to the blazes contributed to them spreading out of control, Kathimerini notes criticizing among others government narrative that attributes “the tragedy to the repercussions of global warming.”

The Fire Service came under fire for grave mistakes in the Athens wildfires and its chief was replace by prime minister Alexis Tsipras. Replaced was also the chief of Greek Police, while the Minister for Citizens Protection Nikos Toskas and the general secretary of Civil Protection resigned.

These are merely cosmetic improvements that won’t bring back the dead.

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