During the hot summer months where temperatures can exceed 40C forest
fires frequently break out, often spread at a frightening speed by high winds.
As most of the areas concerned are remote and inaccessible, and also
for a prompt response, in addition to the regular fire services, the Cypriot
government has 2 Russian built helicopters and 2 fire fighting light aircraft
on standby. Each helicopter has large capacity water buckets which
can be refilled in flight from the any of the reservoirs on the island.
Fresh water only is used to fight the fires as sea water might damage
the local trees and plants. The light aircraft have 'crop spraying' type
water jets on their wings in addition to water tanks on their undersides
This method of extinguishing fires is most effective and even a large
blaze can be brought under control in a short time.
In addition to these resources the British RAF (84 Sqn
Akrotiri) also has Griffin helicopters with fire fighting
capability on standby to assist if called upon.
Here in Cyprus because of a combination of prolonged very hot and dry weather the fire risk is high for most of the year. Brush and forest fires break out frequently over the summer months for a veriety of reasons, partly due to carelessness by people throwing cigarette butts from their cars, broken glass magnifying the suns rays, lightning strikes and carelessness with camp fires.
The Cyprus Fire Service usually responds in the first instance. The main fire service vehicles are supplimented by many local village fire vehicles which usually consist of a pick up truck with a large water tank, pump and hose arrangement. In most cases these local firemen arrive at the scene first and can succeed in either extinguishing or containing the fire until the arrival of the main fire tenders. However a fair proportion of the forest fires break out in very inaccessable spots and in these cases the Firefighting aircraft come into their own.
A massive fire which broke out on Sunday 19th June in Evrychou area spread to the Solea forest area of Nicosia, The fire which burned for 4 days destroyed 18 square kilometers of forest. During the fire a Forestry Department vehicle was totally gutted and an emergency services truck slid down a cliff side fatally injuring two firefighters and in a separate incident another firefighter sustained a broken arm
Cypriot authorities evacuated four mountain villages, Kourdali, Spilia, Ayia Irini and Kannavia which were in the way of the fire
which was blazing out of control,
A police spokeswoman said the fire was started by a 12-year-old boy who tried to burn dry grass outside the country house of his grandfather although
allegations were later made that it was in fact the Grandfather who started the fire.
Heatwave temperatures and winds fanned the flames out of control driving them towards Cyprus' central Troodos mountain range forest, covered mostly by easy burning pine trees. In addition to the two resident firefighting helicopters and two firefighting aircraft, two helicopters from the British base at Akrotiri also joined the firefighting effort. These aircraft joined some 40 ground vehicles and hundreds of personnel. in addition to this Cyprus requested Greece to send fire-fighting planes. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent three fire-fighting aircraft on his own initiative. He said the help was a gesture of reciprocation, as Cyprus had sent a strong fire-fighting force to help put out a fire burning out of control on Mount Carmel, a few years back.The
aircraft had been actually sent to help in fighting another fire in the western part of Cyprus, which was put out by local forces by day-break on Sunday. But they came handy when the fire west of Nicosia broke out at midday.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said the situation in the region of the fire had been dramatic. He sent his condolences to the families of the two
deceased firefighters and assured then that the state would support them, he also thanked Greece and Israel for what he described as their invaluable help towards fighting the blaze.
In total more than 350 firefighters on the ground and 17 aircraft in the air.fought the fire. The fire was exacerbated by a heatwave caused by a warm air mass from Africa. Temperatures reached 39 degrees Celsius on Sunday and are expected to soar to 41 degrees Celsius on Monday, staying there for
at least three more days.
Excerpts from Cyprus weekly, Farmagusta Gazette and CNA
Cyprus was on Saturday asking help from Israel after a fire was raging out of control in Argaka in Paphos, a fire services spokesman told the Cyprus Mail. Spokesman Leonidos Leonidou said the fire had already burned five square kilometres of wild vegetation, hay and pine forest and could not be brought under control due to strong winds. No residential areas were in danger, he said.
The minister has put in a request to Israel for help,? he said but had no further information. He said it could be late Saturday night or early Sunday before the help would arrive. The procedure has started, he added. The request comes under the regional plan ICAROS.
In the meantime, Leonidou said, all state services and the British bases were fighting the blaze that broke out at around 2.40pm. 'It is still out of control,' the spokesman said. He said several helicopters from the British bases were working with 14 trucks from the fire services, 12 from the forestry department and two from the game fund. There are also two chartered helicopters in use, two more from police and one from
the national guard, plus two forestry department firefighting planes.
Two individuals, a man from Argaka in Paphos and a woman from Syria were remanded for four days by the Paphos court on Sunday on suspicion of starting a devastating fire on Saturday that was still smoking, though brought under control early on Sunday. The, pair whose aged varied from 62 and 46 to 52 and 46, according to different reports, had been burning rubbish, the court heard, but the fire they started got out of control quickly due to strong winds on Saturday that had later hampered firefighting efforts.
Four firefighting planes from Israel arrived early in the morning at the Andreas Papandreou air base in Paphos to help the effort. Ash and cinders were still smoking within the five square kilometre ares of scruband pine trees that were destroyed by the fire. CyBC reported that some of the trees
had been 50 years old.
One forestry official called it a major environmental disaster, according to CNA. The forestry department announced at around 8.30 that the blaze was
under control after an overnight battle by firefighting forces from the department, the fire service, the game fund, volunteer firefighters and local residents but the danger still existed that it could re-ignite.
The fire service said around lunchtime that the Israeli planes had carried out a flyover and spread flame retardant material over the affected area. Israeli
ambassador to Cyprus Yael Ravia Zadok visited the Andreas Papandreou air base in Paphos on Sunday morning and was monitoring the operations. Zadok said: 'It is our duty and pleasure to stand by our Cypriot friends and extend a hand of assistance to them, just the way they did when Israel had to combat the massive fire on Mount Carmel in 2010'.
Another fire that broke out on Sunday morning around 9am near Souni in Limassol was on the way to being brought under control around lunchtime, the fire services said. Twelve fire trucks from Limassol stations, one from the forestry department and one from the game fund had responded, with two helicopters plus another two from the British bases and two planes from the forestry department.
Cyprus Mail - 18th & 19th June 2016
Cyprus Weekly 5th June 2014
PAPHOS - A huge fire that started near the village of Kedares was brought under control late on Wednesday evening. According to fire services
spokesperson Liza Kemidji, residents of Kedares were temporarily evacuated away from the village while the authorities battled with the blaze. Kemidji added that fire fighters remain in the area as a precaution to ensure the fire does not reignite. More than 30 trucks, seven helicopters and
a light aircraft were deployed in fighting the blaze that destroyed more that four square kilometres of shrub -
making it the largest fire this year.
On 3rd July 2012 a serious forest fire broke out in the Akamas Forestarea near Paphos. Much of the
Akamas Nature area was destroyed or damaged. Hundreds of firefighters from all over Cyprus were
assisted by the 2 resident Russian built helicopters, two firefighting light aircraft (Forest1 and Forest 2) and also 2 Helicopters from the British Base at Akrotiri.
One of this sites regular viewers Tanith Messenger was on hand with her camera and her excellent
photographs can be viewed on the Photo's page or by clicking the link above.
Thanks to Tanith for the pics and if you have any weather related pictures you have taken on Cyprus please feel free to send them to us for inclusion on this site..
OVER two square kilometres of land were destroyed in a blaze that swept through the Akamas region in Paphos yesterday, with the authorities
suspecting it was set out of malice.It took over 150 men, 35 fire engines and eight helicopters to put out three separate fires in the area.
According to Andreas Christou, the Forestry department's senior press officer, the blaze began at around 9am in the morning in an area close to the five-star Anassa Hotel. "The strong winds fanned the fire causing it to spread and leap into two separate prongs. One moved towards the village of Neo Chorio and the other west, towards the state forest of the Akamas," he said.
The Akamas peninsula is an area of outstanding natural beauty and home to numerous species of flora, fauna, bird and wildlife. Christou added that a
second blaze started later in the afternoon. "At 4pm, a new fire started about two to three kilometres away from the first blaze." The second fire was in the Lara Bay area, which is protected as sea turtles go to lay their eggs. A third fire broke out between the Tala and Emba
communities, but was quickly brought under control before it reached any homes.
Speaking after the fires were brought under control last night, Christou said fire fighters would remain in the area throughout the night as revivals kept
occurring due to strong winds. "A fire initially broke out in the Neo Chorio area in Akamas and then a second one broke out in the Lara area, which reinforces suspicions that the fires were set maliciously," said Christou, who said police would investigate the matter further today,