Cyprus on alert for forest fires

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Cyprus is on daily alert during the hot weather to deal with any fires with a quick response, said Forestry Department Director Charalambos Alexandrou.

“We are ready to mobilise in zero time, to deal with any fire, and we have powerful means to combat fires now, fire trucks, ground fire extinguishing equipment and air tankers,” Alexandrou said.

“Now we have more means available for immediate response in all regions, with the first message that there is a fire outbreak, we are ready to fight”.

The island is on a red alert for the risk of fires breaking out spreading easily because of last year’s dry winter and a dryer and hot summer with prolonged heatwaves, turning vegetation into “gunpowder”.

“We are on a daily basis ready to fight, to spring into action, and we urge the people to be careful, whatever their activities. The fire hazard remains on red alert.”

The Department of Forests emphasised the burning of agricultural remnants is prohibited, urging farmers to avoid using welding, circular saw or any other equipment that produces sparks.

It is also prohibited to light a fire without permission.

Offenders can be punished with up to 10 years imprisonment or a €50,000 fine or both.

Anyone who sees smoke or fire can call the Department of Forests on 1407 or the Cyprus Fire Service on 112.

Cyprus suffered its worst wildfire last month when four Egyptian farm labourers were killed; Cypriot crews are also helping to tackle the huge fires in Greece.