A fire that broke out on Saturday afternoon in an open area filled with old tyres at a processing centre for Vasilikos, was brought under control before midnight, the interior ministry said.

Firefighters, civil defence and other state services remained in the area throughout the night, the ministry said and would continue efforts on Sunday to ensure there would not be a flare-up. It took eight fire engines and a team of 25 firefighters working around the clock to bring the fire under control.

A new team was at the scene on Sunday morning.

The director of the environment department, Costas Hadjipanayiotou, who was at the scene on Saturday afternoon said it appeared the fire was caused by a malfunction in a tyre shredder that ignited the spark that led to the blaze.

Hadjipanayiotou said the tyres were there in accordance with the required permits.

Thousands of tonnes of soil along with foam extinguisher were being piled on to the burning tyres to try and put the flames out.

The fire broke out shortly after 2pm on Saturday.

Only last year, the audit office revealed that a company being paid to process massive quantities of used car tyres for Vasilikos was failing to do so.

In a tweet on Saturday, the audit office said it had pointed out the risk of fire from the accumulation of large quantities of tyres in that very area “at a time when some people collect fees to process the tyres”. There had been another fire involving tyres in the same area in the past, the tweet said.

In its report last year, the audit office said that used car tyres located near the Vassiliko cement works plant, close to Mari, had not been processed, despite a company being paid to do so. These tyres had also been included in the quantities Cyprus put in its report to the European Commission as having been processed, the audit office said.

Vassiliko cement works plant is the main management and processing unit for used tyres and it uses these tyres as a source of energy for its operational needs.

Residents of the area were furious over what happened, they told Phileleftheros on Sunday, and plan to stage a protest there on Monday morning.

Chairman of the coordinating committee of the local communities, and Mayor of Kalavasos, Lefteris Fokas said residents had had a difficult night and it was still considered hazardous to go outside.  He said homes were filled with ashes and other pollutants from the fire.

“Until late last night, we prepared teams in case we needed to evacuate the communities, according to the instructions we had from the civil defence. In the end, it did not happen, but the situation today, despite the fact that the fire is coming to an end because the winds are not blowing as much the smoke had already spread to Kalavasos and it is suffocating,” he said.

Fokas repeated that they would never accept the relocation of the Dhali asphalt plan to their areas.