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Cyprus

Counting the damage left behind by blaze (updated)

Authorities on Thursday were counting the damage left behind by the huge blaze in the Choirokitia area, which raged on out of control for hours before it was subdued by fire-fighters after midnight.

The fire, which broke out at around 10am on Wednesday, was put under full control on Thursday morning after having destroyed everything within an area of around nine square kilometres.

“Throughout the night, fire-fighting vehicles and personnel tackled flare-ups at various points,” deputy fire service director Marios Trangolas said.
Fire-fighting aircraft took to the skies at first light, dropped water on areas where there was a chance of flare-up, and returned to base, Trangolas said.

However, while authorities were focused on Choirokitia, fire-fighting forces had to scramble to the mountainous area of Pera Pedi, in the Limassol district, where a blaze broke out at 9.15pm.

That fire was put under control at 11pm.

Its causes were being investigated.

Authorities and residents of Choirokitia, Skarinou, Ayios Theodoros, Tohni, and Maroni, counted their losses on Thursday, as a 19-year-old National Guardsman was remanded in custody for four days on suspicion of setting the fire deliberately.

“The fire broke out at four different places simultaneously and I believe they had been set deliberately,” the fire chief said.

The court heard that the youth was unable to give police officers a convincing explanation after he was intercepted in the area not long after the fire broke out.

Officers searched the car he had been driving and found three plastic containers, two of which smelled of petrol, the state broadcaster reported.

Apart from the heavy damage to the environment, the blaze also destroyed several vehicles and other property.

Thanks to the efforts of fire-fighting crews however, no homes were damaged, although authorities had ordered the evacuation of Choirokitia.

A forest department plane assessed the area burnt by the fire – nine square kilometres of wild shrub and olive, carob, and pine trees.

A strong fire-fighting force will remain in the area on Thursday as a precaution.

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