Investigators say an unattended candle is the likely cause of a Thessaloniki apartment fire late on Thursday that left a 50-year-old woman temporarily homeless. Witnesses told the media that the woman, who lived alone in a first floor apartment in the Kato Toumba district of the northern Greek town, is facing financial difficulties and had her power supply cut off because of unpaid bills. Earlier Thursday, a fire broke out in an apartment in the Kordelio suburb of Thessaloniki as the tenants, whose power supply was cut off in May last year, had left candles unattended.
The fire, which led to two family members being hospitalized with respiratory problems, came less than a week after a 13-year-old Serbian girl died of carbon monoxide poisoning after her mother used a brazier to heat their apartment, in another part of Thessaloniki, which had also had its electricity supply switched off.
The government on Thursday said it would seek to restore the electricity supply to poor households that have had their power cut after failing to pay their bills and will ensure that the Public Power Corporation (PPC) does not cut the electricity of others struggling to pay their bills.
Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis said he would ask municipal authorities to provide PPC with lists of poor families, noting that the authorities would then decide on a case-by-case basis which households are genuinely unable to pay their electricity bills and ensure they have power. “We will not allow any of our fellow citizens to die of cold,” Maniatis said.