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Fire service urges public to be vigilant (Update 2)

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The fire service appealed to the public on Friday to be extra vigilant in the coming months, after firefighters struggled to tackle several fires popping up in succession in Limassol, raising suspicions they had been set deliberately.

Fire service spokesman Andreas Kettis said a large blaze in the area of Sotira, near the motorway tunnel to Paphos, was put under partial control in the afternoon after burning seven hectares of wild shrub, carob and pine trees.

Earlier, crews were trying to put out a fire nearer to the tunnel. As soon the Sotira fire was put under partial control two other fronts popped up in Ayios Sylas, which the service says had nothing to do with the main one.

The area is much further down and there were some 700 metres between the fronts.

A large number of firefighters were dispatched to the area with eight engines and four helicopters, two of them from the British bases.

“There were very difficulties conditions due to the strong winds,” Kettis said, adding that access was also hampered by the rugged terrain.

Another fire, in Vouni in Limassol, erupted earlier in the day, after a man had parked his vehicle on dry grass. It seems that the overheated exhaust of the car sparked the fire when it came into contact with the grass and a result, the car was destroyed. The fire spread and burned around four decares before it was put out, Kettis said.

As regards the two fires near the tunnel, Kettis said they are investigating with the police the possibility of malicious act. He said that there was another fire on Thursday in Kantou, which borders Sotira. “Some incidents, point to that the fires were not accidental,” he said.

The service later issued an appeal to the public to avoid lighting fires outside, unless it was a designated area, and be cautious where they park their cars.

It also urged people to report any suspicious activity to the authorities.

Meanwhile, the met office issued a yellow warning for Saturday as temperatures are expected to reach 41C.

The warning is valid from 12pm to 5pm. Yellow is the mildest form of an alert concerning people at risk due to their location or activity.


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