Four people suspected of starting Heybeliada fire

Four people suspected of starting Heybeliada fire

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Four people suspected of starting Heybeliada fire

A fire burned three hectares of land on the island. AA photo

Police are seeking four men who allegedly started a recent fire on Istanbul’s Heybeliada island, the local Forestry Management office has said.

“Four young men who came to Heybeliada the previous night kicked up a fuss with locals. Eyewitnesses say they were drunk. The next day they were seen running from the forest right after the fire started,” Forest Management Chief Yüksel Özcan told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday in a phone interview. The fire, which burned down a three-hectare area on June 17, started in a forested area on the island; flames spread quickly due to strong winds, which also hampered firefighting efforts.

Özcan said the flames were seen from three different points on the island and added that the blaze could not have started naturally.

“The possibility of sabotage is very high, How can flames reach the other side of an asphalt road?” Özcan said, adding that the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office had launched an investigation.

Heybeliada is the site of the Greek-Orthodox Halki Seminary, which has been closed since 1971 but is expected to be reopened.

Özcan said Patriarch Bartholomew I, who is the 270th holder of the title, extended his thanks for their efforts to extinguish the fire and rejected any claims of negligence in dousing the blaze.

Six firefighting aircraft and a helicopters were used to put out the fire, according to Özcan.