Cyprus mobilises entire fire fighting force to battle forest fire

Cyprus mobilises entire fire fighting force to battle forest fire

13 July 2018

Published by

CYPRUS – Cypriot authorities had to mobilise all of its fire fighting forces to fight a dangerous forest fire overnight on Thursday, 21 June 2018, which threatened to burn out its central mountain massif forest, a fire brigade spokesman said. As the fire was being fanned out of control by strong winds, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou asked late on Thursday that Israel send fire fighting assistance as part of a practice binding the two countries. Greece was also notified about the possibility of having to send fire fighting planes. Fire department spokesman, Andreas Kettis, said this was not made necessary as local forces operating on foot in rugged areas managed to contain the fire by dawn. A flare up occurred and a top Cypriot fire official reported that 13 aircraft, including two Greek and three Israeli planes, were helping with efforts to extinguish a large forest fire that has so far scorched 15 square kilometres of trees and wild growth.

He said the forest fire, the first of the summer season, was rapidly spreading in the northwestern part for Cyprus towards a region, which is the habitat of a rare species of mountain mouflon and also towards the part of the island occupied by Turkish troops, where fire fighters had been put on the alert.

Authorities suspected that the fire was the act of an arsonist and arrested a 35-year-old villager on charges of starting it. They said they suspected the man of starting other fires in the northwestern region of Cyprus in the last two years.

As fire fighters were putting out the last pockets of the fire, another suspected arsonist started a second fire near the southern port city of Limassol, sending fire fighters scrambling to put it out.

Marcos Tragkolas told the media at least three villages were being evacuated Monday, 25 June 2018, as a precautionary measure. He said one firefighter is in critical but stable condition after suffering head injuries when his vehicle overturned in the mountainous region southwest of the capital Nicosia.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades chaired a meeting of top fire service, police and Interior Ministry officials to coordinate fire fighting efforts.

The Justice Minister said he was concerned over the frequency of arson fires and urged all citizens to be on the lookout for arsonists and cooperate with the police.

Fires in Cyprus are frequent during the hot summer months between June and August, when temperatures may top 40 degrees Celsius for several days in a row. Forest fires are especially difficult to fight both because of rugged terrain and the fact that tinder dry turf and the resin rich pines of which forests are made up help in spreading the flames.

A big forest fire was burning for more than a week in June 2016, in the mountains of the central Troodos range, forcing the evacuation of some mountain villages.

The Cypriot
Associated Press

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien