CYPRUS POLICE have said that a fire in Evrychou area is still burning Monday morning, despite all night efforts to extinguish the blaze. A Forestry Department vehicle was totally gutted and an emergency services truck slid down a cliff side, leaving the 56-year old driver in a serious condition overnight. “So far, the fire continues to rage unchecked, burning trees and grassland. Fire Ground troops fought all night to put the fire under control, while since 05.30 this morning, aerial firefighters are assisting,? a police bulletin stated. “The situation in the area is suffocating because of the fumes,? the bulletin added. A dense pall of smoke is making visibility difficult on the Nicosia ? Troodos road area. “Drivers are required to be extremely careful, maintain low speeds and keep a safe distance away from vehicles ahead,? the statement added. ? © FAMAGUSTA GAZETTE CYPRUS 20th June 2016
Work to bring the Evrychou fire under control began at first light on Monday when air units resumed efforts to douse the flames, the fire service said. Two planes had arrived from Greece to Larnaca airport and joined the effort around 5.30am with some 40 ground vehicles and hundreds of personnel. According to CyBC one forestry official aged 56, was critically injured when his fire truck went into a ditch in the village of Galata and overturned. The man who sustained a head wound and injuries to his right arm is in the ICU Nicosia general hospital. According to CNA, in another incident a 55-year-old member of the civil defence was struck by a fire vehicle. He was treated at the Nicosia General Hospital, where he was found to have a broken left arm. He was admitted for treatment. A third incident saw a forestry department vehicle engulfed in flames and completely destroyed. No one was injured. Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos is expected to visit the region some time on Monday morning. The fire, which broke out on Sunday around midday was started by a 12-year-old boy playing with a lighter. There were 28 calls to fires between Sunday morning and Monday morning the fire service said and it called on the public again not to light fires as temperatures are high and expected to reach around 40C on Monday increasing the risk. SUNDAY JUNE 19 Firefighters were gearing up for another night battling flames on Sunday as a fire that prompted the evacuation of four villages in the Evrychou area continued to rage out of control when air cover was being withdrawn as darkness fell. Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos said that three firefighting planes from Greece would be in Cyprus by 4.30am on Monday. Israel sent three planes on Sunday morning to help put out the massive fire that ranged all day and night in Argaka on Saturday. The Israeli planes were due to leave Sunday afternoon but stayed on to help fight the fire in Evrychou. Police said in the evening that the road from Kakopetria to Karvounas had been closed to traffic due to zero visibility. At around 9.30pm it was re-opened but drivers were urged to be careful. The fire, which broke out around midday was caused by a 12-year-old boy who was playing with a cigarette lighter in his grandfather?s garden, setting fire to dray grass, CyBC reported on its main evening bulletin. A blaze in Argaka was allegedly caused by a couple burning rubbish who were remanded for four days by the Paphos court on Sunday. Fire service spokesman Leonidas Leonidou issued a plea to people through the public broadcaster. ?In the name of God, how many times must people be told not to light fires,? he said. Police spokeswoman Nicoletta Tyrimou told the state broadcaster that the 12-year-old could not be arrested as he is a minor. She said as soon as the fire he lit got out of control he called his grandfather and father for help but though they and some neighbours tried to put out the blaze, it has spread too rapidly. Leonidou said the situation was very difficult in the area where the fire was raging. Four villages, were evacuated as a precaution: Kourdali, Spilia, Ayia Irini and Kannavia. Hasikos said no one was in danger but they were concerned. He said as far as the evacuation went, it did not involve a lot of people as they villages were tiny. Also most of the adults were involved in the firefighting. He said residents were being taken care of by civil defence teams. The community leader of Spilia, Antonis Karis, told CyBC in his case they were talking about around 85 people. Most would either stay overnight with relatives or in hotels. Karis said he was the one who spotted that the fire had spread to his area after seeing smoke an immediately alerted the police. Karis said no residential properties had been damaged as yet but the danger existed. He complained that the fire service had been slow to respond on the ground ?I am sorry to say? but acknowledged that air units were already in the area by the time the blaze spread to Spilia. Leonidou denied the claim. ?The fire service responded immediately it received the message,? he said. Conditions as dark fell were very difficult, he said, due to winds and the fact that it was a big area to cover, plus it was mostly forest. He hoped that once ground units worked through the night and when air cover resume at first light, it would be possible to bring the fire under control. Hasikos said all services had been mobilised, including the fire department, civil defence, forestry, the game fund, volunteer firefighters and locals. He repeated that there was no panic and no danger. ?But is there concern? Yes,? he added. More than 30 fires broken out islandwide between Saturday and Sunday. An earlier blaze near Souni in Limassol was brought under control in around four hours on Sunday morning. President Nicos Anastasiades in a written statement on Sunday evening said he was following with great concern the developments and the ?superhuman efforts of the competent services?. He thanked the Greek and Israeli governments for their assistance. ?The government is taking all measures to protect the inhabitants of the areas where fires are raging and to prevent the fires destroying the environment,? he said.