Excavators and fire engines might be able to start working on dealing with flare-ups and burning recyclable material on Thursday, fire services spokesman Andreas Kettis said, four days after a paper and plastics processing plant was burnt down in Geri.

Speaking on Wednesday, Kettis said that based on evaluations on in the afternoon, they have observed that the thermal load has reduced.

“We found that little by little with the internal combustion that is taking place, the thermal load of all these compressed recyclable materials has begun to be released,” he said. “Probably tomorrow [Thursday] after a new assessment that will be carried out in the area, the fire services will begin to work on the materials and will proceed accordingly.”

He said that if they observe that no flare-ups are occurring, the excavators will begin putting out the blaze bit by bit.

Earlier, Kettis had said neither water nor soil can be used to put out flare-ups.

Telling the Cyprus Mail why water cannot be used, Kettis said that the items that have remained from the blaze are all stacked in piles, and if the fire service were to knock the piles down with water they would risk causing more blazes and creating more pollution.

Likewise, Kettis said that burying the material under soil would create furnace conditions, causing a risk of these materials smouldering for months.

Kettis emphasised that the fire service has been at the site of the fire since the first day.

On the first day, nine fire engines were at the factory and they remained during the first night, the next day six vehicles remained at the factory, while as of Wednesday two fire engines are at the site.

“There is no other way,” he said.

He added that the fire brigade has covered the perimeter and created cooling silos and interventions where necessary, explaining however that if the fire brigade pours water on the flare-ups, then conditions like those that existed on the first day will be created that could be possibly worse.

“We try to protect the staff as much as possible. There are no other options, it will take some time for the burning to complete,” he said.

On Sunday, the fire completely destroyed the recycling facility in Geri, and left residents without power and sheltering in place, due to toxic smoke.