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Man pleads not guilty to starting Arakapas fire

πληγείσες περιοχές από την πυρκαγ
The destruction caused by the fires last July

A 67-year-old man pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges that he had started a huge fire in Arakapas in July that killed four men and destroyed some 55 square kilometres of forest, cultivations, homes, and other property.

The defendant appeared before Limassol’s criminal court where he denied two charges of lighting a fire.

The court adjourned for November 19.

The defendant was released on a €50,000 bail. He has already surrendered his travel documents and must report to police three times a week.

The defendant was arrested following the July 3 fire after witnesses put him at the location where the fire started.

He claimed that he went to water citrus and fruit trees in his field at 10am.

The fire left behind it a charred landscape spanning around 55 square kilometres, which included houses, businesses, pine forest, crops, and left 10 communities reeling. It was, the government said, the worst fire in living memory.

Four men, Egyptian nationals who came to Cyprus for work, died in the flames while trying to flee the fire.

Fanned by strong winds, the fire raced through a largely forested area, destroying everything in its path.

It travelled eight kilometres in around five hours over a perimeter of several kilometres. By comparison, a 2016 blaze in Solea destroyed 18 square kilometres in four days.

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