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Government raises awareness of ‘nightmare’ wildfires

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Justice Minister Stephie Dracos has called for everyone’s cooperation to protect the country “from the nightmare of fires” after Cyprus’ largest wildfire last summer.

She was addressing an event for the launch of the Fire Prevention Week, with events to raise awareness of the importance of fire prevention in urban and rural areas.

The Fire Prevention Week is being co-organised for the 21st year by the Cyprus Fire Service and CNP Insurance.

Dracos said that respect for human life and protecting property and nature from the devastating effects of fires was everyone’s responsibility.

Four Egyptian farmworkers died in the wildfires that broke out last July in the Larnaca and Limassol region, while damage to the environment was immeasurable.

The estimated cost of last summer’s urban fires was €11 mln, while forest fires were €18.6 mln.

“So, the message is clear. We must join forces to achieve the best possible results in prevention and the fight against fires,” Dracos said.

The Chief of the Fire Service, Polyvios Hadjivassiliou, said that every year, from approximately 13,000 calls received, 8,500 concern fires, and about 5,000 concern fires in the countryside, while almost 93% of fires are due to human activity.

Hadjivassiliou also referred to the constant upgrade of the Fire Service to help people, with continuous training of its members and participation in European Programmes, by replacing some fire engines every year and acquiring new equipment.

He said the Fire and Rescue Service of the British Bases is a partner of the Cyprus Fire Service and “contributes significantly and supportively” to operations at all levels.

Awareness events will culminate with a “Fire Prevention Open Day” on May 21, at the Nicosia Mall, where the public will have the opportunity to see fire engines and equipment, while there will be activities for children.