Cyprus Mail

Worst fires in Cyprus’ recent history

File photo

The fire currently raging in the Solea region is one of the biggest in recent history and could yet be the worst ever depending on the final extent of the damage.

As of Tuesday, some 15 square kilometres were said to have been destroyed.

During the fighting in 1974, huge fires, the result of bombarding and other warfare, burnt 35 per cent of the most productive forest areas in Paphos and the northwest of the Troodos mountain range. The total area reduced to ashes during that period was approximately 26 square kilometres.

Another huge blaze which started on June 27, 1995 was out of control for more than two days in the Pentadaktylos mountain range before it was contained. The fire was fanned by strong winds at the time.

It razed over 70 square kilometres of forest and 14 villages were damaged. It was brought under control mainly by RAF helicopters which during 39 hours dumped more than 270,000 of sea water on the flames.

Services reported they underwent an analysis of the administrative and internal problems they faced after a 2000 blaze between Chirokitia and Vavla in Larnaca devastated wild vegetation, trees and buildings and took three days to tame. The fire devastated 12 square kilometres of land. According to the forestry department they gradually acquired a modern fleet of fire engine vehicles and other equipment, including two planes and improved training.

However, the June 29, 2007 blaze in the Pelendri – Kato Amiandos – Saittas region was one of the biggest fires the island has suffered in recent history. Similar to the 2000 fire it burnt a total of 12 square kilometres of forestry land, while causing damage to homes, buildings and farmland.

In addition, the debris from the fire damaged the dam’s valves which control water flow resulting in large volumes of water leaking from the reservoir. The debris left over from the fire filled half the dam reducing its capacity for seven years before it was finally removed.

Only two weeks later, on July 16, 2007 two separate fires left vegetated areas in the Larnaca region covered in ash.

The more serious one required the evacuation of the villages of Kalavasos and Asgata, as the blaze came within 100 metres of residences. The blaze, fanned by strong winds, quickly spread into the surrounding hills, leaving several square kilometres of farmland, trees and wild shrubs ravaged. Two outlying houses and two farms were also destroyed.

The second blaze on the same day affected the villages of Mosfiloti and Pyrga. Several houses in Pyrga were reported to have been blackened by smoke from the fire, with surrounding trees and some buildings sustaining significant damage.

The most recent large fire just prior to Solea broke out on Saturday in Argaka in Paphos which raged out of control overnight burning five square kilometres. Cyprus requested help from Israel, which sent three planes on Sunday morning. The fire was just being put under control when the blaze broke out in Evrychou that spread to the Solea region on Sunday.






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