ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek police said Monday they are seeking a farmer who allegedly shot and injured two bystanders videoing a wildfire on the island of Crete after an argument over whether they might be better employed helping to put out the blaze.
A police statement said the two men were hospitalized with stomach and leg gunshot injuries. A woman with them was not injured.
Police said the shooting took place in the Viannos area of Crete, on a road near farmland owned by the suspect who was driving by and stopped to reprimand the three for videoing the area as it burned.
"There was a strong verbal altercation between the suspect and the trio," a police official said, quoting testimony from the injured men and the woman. "He told them they should join the firefighting effort, and the argument became heated."
The official, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity, said that the suspect then produced a gun from his car and shot at the two men, before speeding away.
The wildfire broke out earlier Monday, and forced the evacuation of three villages. Three firefighters were slightly injured trying to extinguish the blaze.
Fires were also raging Monday in another part of Crete, on the resort island of Rhodes — where five firefighters required treatment for heatstroke — and in northwestern Greece. Officials said inhabited areas were not immediately threatened.
Wildfires are common during Greece's long, hot summers. In 2007, more than 60 people died in huge forest fires across southern and central Greece