The forestry department on Friday said the National Guard would start assisting in the forest monitoring programme aimed at preventing fires.

According to the forestry department the programme concerns drone air patrols in all forest areas and the countryside throughout Cyprus. “The patrols will aim at locating a source of smoke or fire, but primarily monitor suspicious movements and locate perpetrators who deliberately set fires,” it said.

Firefighting crews battled with at least five blazes on Friday.

On Friday afternoon the fire service said a fire erupted near Anarita village in Paphos. Crews of the fire service and forestry department were dispatched as well as four aircraft.

Efforts also focused on protecting nearby animal farms. The fire was put under control at around 5pm, around an hour and a half after it erupted.

Around the same time a fire broke out in Nikoklia also in the Paphos district. It was put out at around 5.10 pm. It burned around five hectares of dry vegetation, trees and two abandoned buildings.

At around noon authorities were alerted of a fire in the Kokkinotrimithia area outside Nicosia.

Six engines and one aircraft were dispatched to the scene, the fire service said.

The flames burned stubble, dry grass, wild shrubbery, and acacia trees. Firefighters were trying to prevent the fire from reaching the Forest Industries. It was put under control at around 3pm.

The fire service also announced that a large number of personnel and four aircraft were called in on Friday morning to tackle a blaze between the villages of Fasoula and Palodia in Limassol district that burned around 25 hectares of dry vegetation and trees. The crews were able to protect some houses that were closed to the blaze.

According to the Cyprus News Agency police found evidence pointing out to foul play.

According to fire service spokesman Andreas Kettis, authorities were alerted at around 10.36 am and was placed under partial control some three hours later.

Five fire engines were dispatched in the area by the fire service as well as three vehicles by the forestry department. Two firefighting helicopters and two airplanes were also sent in to help.

Earlier on Friday, the fire services said they had managed to contain a fire near Avdimou, also in the Limassol district, after battling the flames overnight.