A 27-year-old man was sentenced to two years in prison on Friday for causing a fire near a state forest in Limassol on July 3, 2021.

According to the Limassol criminal court’s announcement, the defendant admitted to throwing a lit cigarette butt from his car window within 480 metres of a state forest at a time when winds were moderate to strong.

Eight fire trucks and two aircrafts were used to extinguish the fire, which burned approximately 10 hectares of land including dry grass, wild vegetation, and pines. The state forest was not affected.

The court ruled that he should be sentenced to two years for causing a fire through reckless and negligent behavior.

It pointed out that the offence carries a prison sentence of up to ten years and a €50,000 fine, and that this is because of the devastating impact such actions can have.

“This fact necessitates the imposition of severe and deterrent sentences in combating such crimes, as well as to protect property and safety of both citizens and the natural environment,” the court added.

And on this point, the court ruled that no justification could be provided for the suspension of the sentence.

Moreover, the court pointed out that the Cypriot natural environment is an important parameter of its physiognomy, and that a significant number of plants and animals’ endemic to Cyprus are endangered because of fires set by reckless and negligent individuals either intentionally or not.

In determining the sentence, the court considered the defendant’s immediate confession, his clean criminal record, his personal and family circumstances, his cooperation with the police and the fact that he realised his mistake remaining in the area and trying to put the fire out himself.

On the same day in July 2021 a huge blaze in the Arakapas area went through 55 square kilometres of forest, cultivations, homes, and other property in just a few hours, also killing four people who were trying to flee the flames.

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