Anger after fireworks trigger Greek forest fire

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A forest fire on the Greek tourist island of Hydra, near Athens, was started by fireworks launched from a yacht, firefighters said Saturday, sparking widespread anger.

The fire, which started on Friday evening, has been brought under control, authorities said.

The blaze was “caused by a fireworks launched from a boat and burned the only pine forest on the island in a place that is difficult to access and has no road,” said the island’s seasonal firefighting team on Facebook.

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The mayor of the island, Giorgos Koukoudakis, told public television channel ERT that he was “outraged that certain people are starting fires in such an irresponsible manner.”

The news also sparked fury on social media.

Greece has recently toughened penalties for arson, with perpetrators now facing up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to 200,000 euros.

The country has been bracing for a particularly difficult summer as authorities warned that strong winds and high temperatures mean there was a “very high risk” of forest fires.

The Mediterranean country recorded its first heatwave of the year last week with temperatures passing more than 44 degrees Celsius (111 degrees Fahrenheit) in some locations.

Greek firefighters on Friday battled wildfires fanned by three days of fierce winds that left at least one person dead.

Last year, a fierce two-week heatwave was followed by devastating wildfires in which 20 people died.

Scientists warn that fossil fuel emissions caused by humans are worsening the length and intensity of heatwaves around the world.

Rising temperatures are leading to extended wildfire seasons and increasing the area burnt by the blazes, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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