THE FIRST estimation of damage caused by the fires in the Choirokitia and Ayios Theodoros areas in the Laranaca district on Wednesday so far is €200,000, officials said yesterday.
The actual cause of the fire will be determined by investigations by the police and the fire department. Initial findings suggest the fire at Choirokitia was caused by an arson attack. A soldier was arrested and is in custody on suspicion of starting the blaze.
“Discussions about compensation will be held after the damage is assessed,” Interior Minister Socrates Hasikos said.
The minister thanked all those involved in fighting the fires who had put their lives at risk on Wednesday as fires raged all day and into the night destroying over nine square kilometers. Homes were spared though Choirokitia was evacuated early in the day.
He said government and parliament needed to draw up stricter measures against arson attacks.
“According to estimates the financial damage to Choirokitia and Ayios Theodoros is small but the environmental damage is immeasurable and it will take decades for the natural environment to recover,” chairman of House Environment Committee Adamos Adamou said yesterday.
Greens MP George Perdikis expressed concern about the increase in rural fires.
“Statistics show that in 2009 13 square kilometres of land was burnt while in 2012,s some 20 square kilometers was burnt. From the start of this year until mid June, 16 square kilometers have been burnt and if this trend continues, last year’s record will be exceeded,” Perdikis said.
Convictions for arson have been very few and even though there has been an increase in penalties, no convictions have been recorded, Perdikis said.