Cyprus Mail

Vegetation to be cleared after Polis fire

File photo of the fire on early Sunday morning

Overgrown vegetation is being cleared from a beachside campsite and surrounding homes in Polis after an arson attack in a nearby dry river bed on Sunday saw campers and residents evacuated in the early hours of the morning.

The decision was taken at a meeting of relevant services held at Polis Chrysochous municipality on Tuesday, mayor Giotis Papachristofi told the Cyprus Mail.

“There are around ten houses that are close to the river bed which is dry in the summer and it could be dangerous as it is overgrown with wild vegetation. The municipality will start to clear the area closest to the homes on Wednesday morning,” he said.

However, following the meeting, representatives of both the fire and forestry departments visited the campsite and told facility manager Lakis Matheou to also clear dry grass from inside the site. He said this would cost him around €1,000.

“From this afternoon (Tuesday) we will clear the dry vegetation from a few areas inside the campsite, it will take a week maximum,” he said, adding that the site is open and operating as usual.

Matheou said the fire occurred outside the campsite, well away from the entrance but added that everyone was evacuated for their own safety, including staff, to an area further towards Latchi.

The mayor said that as the river bed is around 5km long and full of overgrowth it will cost €200,000 to clear it all. The municipality is requesting that the ministry of agriculture pays for it as a matter of urgency. “It is a long river and full of all sorts of dry vegetation,” he said.

A second meeting will be held in Nicosia on Friday morning at the environmental services, he added, where the mayor will meet the heads of the environment, forestry and water departments.

The facility is an important one for the area and August is the busiest month for the campsite, with around 2,000 to 3,000 overseas and local campers visiting during this period.

“We will discuss exactly what we can do to protect this area, the campsite and the nearby homes.”

The campsite is surrounded by eucalyptus trees, tall grasses, bamboo and other vegetation, some 1.5 hectares of which was destroyed in the fire.

The mayor on Monday partly blamed government services for the situation, saying they had failed to clean up a dry river bed where the blaze was set only 500 metres from the entrance to the campsite.

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