Woman who lost family to deadly wildfires sues Greek officials

Woman who lost family to deadly wildfires sues Greek officials 1

Greek wildfires

Barbara Voukaki, who lost her husband Grigoris Fytros, 11-year-old son Andreas and 13-year-old daughter Evita in the deadly Attica wildfires has accused government officials of intentional homicide and exposure to danger in the deaths of her family.

The lawsuit names Interior Minister Panos Skourletis; Nikos Toskas, who resigned as public order minister several days after the blaze; a local mayor; the regional governor; and the former heads of the fire department, police, and civil protection agency.

The worst affected area was the settlement of Mati, where the Fytros family had a holiday home. On the day of the forest fire, the father and his kids were spending time there while Barbara remained at work in Athens. In her lawsuit, Voukaki said she was in constant contact with her husband as the fire developed, but at some point could no longer get in touch with her family.

The charred bodies of Grigoris and Andreas Fytros were found together in an area near the sea and identified through forensics tests. Evita’s body was found in the sea after her clothes caught fire and she jumped off a cliff in a desperate attempt to save herself.

“I am certain that their deaths, like the deaths of tens of our fellow citizens, could have been avoided if the state apparatus and its incumbents had operated as the law states,” Voukaki said in her lawsuit.

The lawsuit accuses the officials of a series of oversights and omissions, including failing to clear public areas of flammable material, a lack of coordination among emergency services and a failure to inform residents of a need to evacuate their homes in time.

Voukaki’s lawyer, Vassilis Kapernaros, said the lawsuit included elements “that prove … the sharing of responsibility and blame of all those whom we are suing” for the deaths.

The government has largely blamed illegal construction for the high death toll in the blaze, Greece’s deadliest forest fire in decades. Experts have pointed to the narrow streets, numerous dead-ends and no clear path to the sea as factors contributing to the deaths.

A judicial investigation is underway into the causes and handling of the fire, Greece’s deadliest in decades.