Firefighters on Monday morning extinguished a dangerous blaze in the Nicosia village of Flasou that broke out at around 8.45am, bringing to an end a busy weekend.

The Flasou fire required the intervention of 15 forestry department special vehicles, three fire trucks, two helicopters and three aircraft belonging to the forestry department.

The exact cause of the fire is still being investigated by the authorities.

Earlier in the day, the fire department announced that, over the past 24 hours, it successfully extinguished other smaller fires in the villages of Stavrokonnou, Ayia Marina Kelokedaron and Nata, all located in the Paphos district, as well as in the area of Prophitis Elias, near Protaras.

Also, according to the statement, from July 21 until 6am on Monday, firefighters responded to a total of 123 distress calls, which included 66 fire incidents, 47 special services requests and ten false alarms.

On top of that, the fire department was called to intervene when fireworks thrown during a wedding reception in the village of Lofou on Saturday caused a small fire and some panic among guests.

Speaking to Sigma on Monday, fire department spokesperson Andreas Kettis said fires caused by fireworks are on the rise.

“The situation is quite worrying,” he said. “Especially in this heat fireworks can be extremely dangerous and cause large fires.”

Kettis said the fireworks lit at the wedding in Lofou were a cause for concern not just for people, but also for buildings and premises. He added, however, that no one was injured.

“We are calling on people to be cautious when lighting fireworks. Better avoiding them in this heat.”

Meanwhile, the Cyprus police, in collaboration with the fire department and under the supervision of the justice ministry, are advocating for an extension of the ‘Neighbourhood Watch Programme’ to include matters related to fire safety.

As part of the initiative, an informational event on the programme’s planned operations will take place at 7pm on Monday at the multipurpose hall in Kyperounda.

Currently, there are 118,000 registered ‘Neighbourhood Watch Programme’ members throughout Cyprus.

“The institution was established in 2011 and has proven to be highly effective,” a police statement released on Monday said.

“It has contributed significantly to both crime prevention and to enhance people’s safety.”

The proposal to include matters related to fire safety in the programme comes on the back of Justice Minister Anna Procopiou’s statement’s last month, when she said that continuous efforts are being made to upgrade the fire service, in particular volunteer fire brigades.

“In an effort to reinforce the mechanism for preventing forest fires and to acknowledge the instrumental role played by the ‘Neighbourhood Watch Programme’ in crime prevention, it has been decided to extend and enhance the programme’s scope to address the critical issue of wildfires that plague our country every summer, particularly in mountainous and semi-mountainous areas,” the statement explained.

It also added that Monday’s event’s goal is to find ways to further develop the programme, “which was limited during the pandemic period, by informing and raising awareness among the public, especially those residing and operating in remote areas”.

“The aim is to encourage people to timely detect and report fires in their areas to the relevant authorities, as well as provide information about any suspicious or erroneous human activities, which unfortunately remain the primary cause of wildfires.”

The fire service and the forestry department released a joint statement on Monday warning the public of the increased risk of fires during the current heatwave.

“We urge everyone to exercise utmost caution and refrain from actions and activities that may potentially lead to fires,” the statement said.

“The use of tools or agricultural machinery generating heat and sparks, or flames, such as welding machines should be strictly avoided.”

It also reminded that burning grass, branches and debris is strictly prohibited, as well as the ignition of fires in the countryside, except for cooking purposes and within specifically designated areas located in organised camping sites.

“Setting fires within state forests or within a distance of two kilometres from their borders is considered a criminal offence.

“According to the Forest Law of 2012, perpetrators are subject to imprisonment for up to 10 years or a fine of up to €50,000, or both penalties combined.

Anyone who spots smoke or fire is kindly urged to immediately call 1407 (Department of Forests) or 112 (Fire Service). Anyone who spots smoke or fire should immediately alert the forestry department at 1407 or the fire service at 112,” the statement concluded.