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Scorching weather triggers forest fire alert

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Cyprus is on a red alert for forest fires as the island continues to swelter under the hot Mediterranean sun, with temperatures expected to exceed 40 degrees Celsius.

On Friday, the island’s forestry department issued a red alert for the risk of fires breaking out as the weather continues to be hot and dry, creating ideal conditions for wildfires.

The department urges the public to refrain from activities that may cause fire and to cooperate with the authorities.

It emphasises that burning agricultural debris is prohibited, urging farmers to avoid welding, circular saws or other equipment that produces sparks.

Lighting a fire without permission or discarding lighted cigarettes is also prohibited.

Offenders can be punished with up to 10 years imprisonment, 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.

In July, Cyprus suffered a devastating wildfire last year when four Egyptian farm labourers were killed.

The fire, described as the worst since the independence of Cyprus in 1960, destroyed nearly 100 homes and businesses, damaged power lines and forced the evacuation of 10 villages.

Cyprus has seen maximum temperatures hover around 40 this week, and the heat will rise even further in the coming days.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, weather observer Eric Kitas of KitasWeather said a warm and dry weather system is heading for Cyprus, ushering in even higher temperatures.

“Temperatures over the weekend will hover around 40, while next week they will be pushed up to 41, possibly even 42,” said Kitas.

The weather observer noted that this is not unusual for Cyprus at this time of the year, as average temperatures are around 40 inland.

“We expect to see high temperatures prevail until the end of the month.”