Cyprus Mail

Electricity cables to be updated following fire death (update 2)

electrical grid electricity
File photo

Following severe fires in Paphos and the death of a 75-year-old British man who was electrocuted after touching a cable, the agriculture ministry on Tuesday announced improved installations aimed at preventing fires.

A group comprised of officials from the electricity authority (EAC), the forestry department and the fire service, who will regularly meet to plan their courses of action will also be set up. It will focus primarily on preventing fires caused by power cables.

A series of fires across Cyprus have been blamed on the EAC’s decision to leave exposed cables out in the open, and the death of British permanent resident in Nata village David James.

His death prompted an urgent meeting between the agriculture ministry, forestry department and EAC on Tuesday.

Permanent secretary for agricultural development at the ministry Andreas Georgiou said they had identified running cables through forest land and rural areas run the risk of causing a fire. The matter had been initially disputed by the EAC when charged by the forestry department of having exposed cables running through forests.

According to Georgiou, stakeholders in the working group will meet once a month “to plan steps the EAC should take to reduce the risk of fires starting from power lines that cross forests and countryside.

“A risk assessment will be carried out and a programme will be launched to replace the existing cables with cables that have insulation. Therefore, they will not cause fires from external factors such as wind or from the flight of birds.”

Asked if this is feasible, Georgiou said this would not happen overnight but would take time.

He later specified the working group has been operating for the past three or four years without the fire service, and though progress has been observed, efforts will be intensified.

Community leader in Nata village Stavros Iosifides, where James lived for over 20 years, told the Cyprus Mail that James had called him on Monday at around 2:20pm to tell him there was a fire opposite his house, in an abandoned home.

A community council employee and fire truck rushed to the scene and put out the flames.

According to Iosifides, he had gone to speak to James to ask him if he had any clue what had caused the fire.

“He said he hadn’t seen anything.”

Iosifides, who is an electrician, spotted the cables on the ground and said things instantly clicked into place.

“I ran back and yelled ‘don’t touch’ but it was too late. He was already holding the cables in his hand.”

The community leader said cables from the nearby electricity pole had detached and fallen to the ground. “I have no idea why, this is something for the authorities to investigate.”

Chairwoman of the EAC board Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou said “we want to tell the public to say away from cables, this is dangerous.”

If people see cables “they should stay away until EAC teams are at the scene to repair any damage which may have occurred.”

Asked to comment over the incident and the Paphos fires, Theodosiou said there is an ongoing investigation and therefore they cannot say much.

She expressed her condolences to James’ friends and family.

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