Red alert for forest fires

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The risk of forest fires and their spread remains on red alert Tuesday as Cyprus suffers a prolonged heatwave with maximum temperatures over 41 degrees Celcius, the Department of Forests said.

Lighting fires without permission is strictly prohibited and constitutes a criminal offence.

According to the Forest Act of 2012, guilty individuals may face imprisonment for up to 10 years, a fine of up to €50,000, or both.

Under the Rural Fires Prevention Act of 1988, offenders may be imprisoned for up to 5 years, a monetary penalty of up to €20,000, or both.

The lighting of fires for preparing food is only permitted in designated barbecue areas.

The public is urged to exercise the utmost caution during their excursions, avoiding any actions or activities that may cause a fire.

This includes refraining from using tools or agricultural machinery that generate heat, sparks, or flames.

People are urged to call 1407 (Department of Forests) or 112 (Fire Service) for immediate assistance if they detect smoke or fire.

In recent days, the number of fires breaking out has increased.

Fire Service Spokesperson, Andreas Kettis, told CNA that during this period of high temperatures, the risk of fires is very high and called on the public to be vigilant.

He said the prolonged heatwave combined with the intense activity in the countryside, especially on the weekends, and the environmental conditions in general, can lead to fires breaking out and spreading.

However, he added that fewer fires will definitely exist if people are cautious.

“There have been several fires. There has been an upsurge in recent days.

“The aim is to tackle the fire at its initial stage, especially during these days of prolonged heat and winds.”