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Forest fires doubled the average this year

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The head of the Department of Forests said this July the number of fires tackled under its responsibility was 70 compared with an average of 30 in previous years.

It followed the largest wildfire this year in the Limassol district, which destroyed 10 square km of vegetation and some properties.

It took an international effort to control the fire after it reignited over the weekend.

On Tuesday afternoon, patrols were carried out by two Israeli firefighting planes and a large Jordanian helicopter, the MI 26, while ground forces remained alert.

The head of the Forestry Department, Charalambos Alexandrou, told CNA the situation was better, but some areas in the perimeter were still of concern.

He also said crews would remain in the area because there were difficult spots due to the topography, apart from the fire’s large perimeter.

Some large trees could burn for days, while their roots could continue to burn, causing a blaze in areas where it had not previously spread.

Alexandrou said this was a difficult summer, “perhaps one of the most difficult”.

This July witnessed the longest heatwave on record at a blistering 16 consecutive days of 40 Celsius or above.

“This July, the average number of fires in the area of responsibility of the Forestry Department was 70 compared with 30 in previous years.”

The Department of Forests was responsible for state forests and a two-kilometre zone from them, while the Fire Service was responsible for the rest of the countryside.