Cyprus Mail

President calls for coordination to meet increased fire risk

President Anastasiades called on ministries to coordinate efforts to counter a heightened fire risk this summer as the proliferation of vegetation caused by heavy rains dry out and become fuel for fires.

Speaking after the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the deputy government spokesperson Klelia Vasiliou said that Anastasiades “gave clear instructions for the cooperation of all relevant ministries and for the activation of cleaning and other preventative mechanisms”.

The president also requested that local authorities contribute to the efforts.

As reported by the Sunday Mail on March 31, the island’s hillsides and forests, now covered with greenery because of heavy rainfall, will be turned into dry shrubs and grasses once summer starts, leaving swathes of land covered with fuel for fires.

Heavy rain in winter increases rather than decreases the risk of wildfires in summer. The worst fire years tend to appear amid seasonal extremes, when a particularly wet season is followed by an extremely dry one.

In view of reducing the risk of fire outbreak and the rate of fire spreading from the pervasive growth of vegetation, the forestry department said it will be pruning and thinning trees, and removing ground vegetation along roads and in hazardous areas.

Increased concerns over a potentially calamitous fire season also stem from an announcement issued earlier in March by the forestry department, which warned that current staffing levels of the department are worse than in 2016, when the fires of Soleas and Argakas destroyed huge forest areas.

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