Large areas on the outskirts of Athens have been reduced to ashes, leading to accusations greedy builders started the wildfires to clear the way for development.
Under the Greek constitution, construction on forested land is illegal until it has burned down. Builder Themis Krasia said he knows how the scam works. ‘‘You just have to know the system. We know when there will be a fire and we come and build before trees can be replanted there.’‘ 213 million square meters. That is the amount of land some people are saying the blazes have made available to real estate investors. According to Spiros Kovelis a socialist opposition MP, fires are started on purpose to allow for building. ‘‘We have never seen in Greece the demolition of these illegal buildings.’‘ ‘‘A thousand square metres of forest has almost no value. A thousand square metres where we can build six to eight hundred square metres of housing, that has enormous value,’‘ Kovelis added. In recent years, thousands of rural workers have flocked to Athens looking for work, an influx that has resulted in demand for housing outstripping supply.