A massive wildfire that erupted in the mountains near Limassol on Wednesday, has been partly brought under control after an all-night battle with the flames, said the Fire Department.
So far, the fire has burnt through 1.5 square kilometre of wild vegetation, an area between the villages of Agios Mama, Kalo Chorio, Pelendri and Kato Mylos.
In comments to state radio CyBC on Thursday, Forestry Department spokesperson George Constantinou said that the blaze started in Agios Mamas on Wednesday noon, and spread rapidly in challenging terrain.
Constantinou described the situation as “highly complex and revealed that the ‘IKAROS 2’ emergency plan, involving aerial means, has been activated. A coordination centre has been established in the area to coordinate the response”.
In response to the escalating situation, the number of aerial firefighting means has been increased from the initial five to nine.
The fire started between Agios Mama and Kalo Chorio, spreading very quickly and preventing a swift intervention by firefighters due to the area’s difficult terrain.
The head of the Forestry Department, Charalambos Alexandrou, admitted that “at some point we were fearing that the ‘game’ had been lost due to the fact that there were no roads for the ground forces to approach the fire fronts”.
More than 300 firefighters with 40 vehicles from the Cyprus Fire Department, Forestry Department, Civil Defense, Game Service and volunteers tried to put out the fire overnight. In addition, nine aerial means joined the fight to stop the fire from spreading to the nearby communities.
Voluntary groups, community councils, members of the Limassol District Administration, the Game Service, as well as members of the Rural Police and the Limassol Crime Investigation Department remained in the area, assisting in the gigantic operation to extinguish the wildfire.
Asked where the fire started, Alexandrou said that authorities estimated that the fire broke out south of the village of Agios Mamas.
“There was a pile of garbage in the area. We can only make assumptions. We can’t attribute it to the garbage pile. At this point we are also not in a position to estimate whether the fire was set intentionally,” he said.
No damages to property, or loss of lives has been reported so far, with no evacuations ordered.
Meanwhile, a firefighter was injured on Wednesday night during the large operation to extinguish the fire and rushed by ambulance to the Limassol General Hospital.
According to information, the firefighter had been injured in the chest, but suffered minor injuries.
The fire in the Limassol mountainous area is the largest wildfire to hit the island this year, just days after another wildfire threatened property and livestock in the Paphos district.
The island is enduring one of the longest heatwaves in history.
The latest blaze is the worst fire the Mediterranean island has faced this summer as it swelters under temperatures that have remained at 40 degrees Celsius or above since July 12.
Memories from the most devastating fire the island has seen are still fresh. The huge blaze on July 3, 2021 – which started in the Limassol village of Arakapas – burnt over 55 square km of forest land, homes, and properties.
It claimed the lives of four farm workers from Egypt aged 24 to 35, while more than 80 homes and tens of farms and small businesses were destroyed in the rural areas of Limassol and Larnaca.
Reportedly, the government has paid over €6 mln in compensation to those affected by the forest fire.