Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Cyprus asks Israel for help as firefighters battle huge blaze in Argaka (Updated)

Cyprus was on Saturday asking help from Israel after a fire was raging out of control in Argaka in Paphos, a fire services spokesman told the Cyprus Mail.

Efforts to put out the fire, the biggest in Cyprus has seen in recent years, was continuing into the night.

Spokesman Leonidas Leonidou said the blaze had burned five square kilometres of wild vegetation, hay and pine forest by around 7pm and could not be brought under control due to strong winds. No residential areas were in danger however, he said.

Authorities were in the process of putting in a request to Israel for help, he said but had no further information. He said it could be late Saturday night or early Sunday before the help would arrive once the request was made. “The procedure has started,” he added.

Public broadcaster CyBC said a such a decision would involve the ministers of agriculture, justice and interior. It said it was unlikely that if help arrived from Israel that it would be before the morning on Sunday. The request comes under the regional plan ICAROS.

In the meantime, Leonidou said, all state services and the British bases were fighting the blaze that broke out at around 2.40pm. CyBC, citing a forestry department official on its nightly news bulletin said 200 personnel from various state services had been enlisted to fight the blaze, which was heading towards the Argaka reservoir and dangerously close to state forest land.

The station said that 40 fire trucks, bulldozers and excavators from the fire services, the forestry department and the game fund were trying to bring the fire under control, along with eight helicopters from the forestry department, police and the British bases. It was the biggest mobilisation yet for a fire in Cyprus, CyBC said..

 

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