Foreign firefighting aircraft began departing from Cyprus on Wednesday, as the fire in the Alassa dam area of Limassol that has been burning since last week has now been put under control.
A small ceremony was held earlier in the day to honour Israeli forces that had responded. Likewise, the fire service said that small ceremonies will take place for firefighters from Jordan and Lebanon on Thursday, who had also come to help. The fire burnt around nine square kilometres.
The ceremony for Israel was organised by the defence ministry and it was attended by the ministers of defence, justice, and agriculture, who all thanked fire firefighters on behalf of the government.
Meanwhile, overnight firefighters battled isolated flare-ups from the fire in Limassol, which were extinguished.
Fire services spokesman Andreas Kettis told the Cyprus Mail that local forces remain in the area on alert to deal with any possible flare-ups throughout the day.
“No forces have left, there remain at the scene around 200 personnel and 50 to 55 vehicles. There is no plan to let anyone leave today but the situation will be re-assessed at day’s end,” Kettis said.
The fire spokesman added that the perimeter is fully secured, and flare-ups are very limited, with some very isolated cases that were dealt with promptly during the night.
Kettis added that the aerial support craft Greece left on Tuesday, while those from Jordan and Lebanon are also expected to depart on Thursday.
In the aftermath of the fire, Justice Minister Anna Procopiou praised the coordinated efforts of the authorities, however, in a public statement on Wednesday the Greens party questioned whether enough funding is being invested in fire prevention.
The Greens argued that despite the commendable efforts of the services, “all the causal and negative factors remain” which in years past also led to the catastrophic fires in Solea and Arakapas.
Among these the party noted deficits in infrastructure, equipment, and personnel, accusing the state of skewed priorities.
“While huge sums are spent on military equipment, […] the presidential plane, and expensive fiestas of a communicative nature, no corresponding interest is given to the purchase of more firefighting equipment including firefighting planes,” the party claimed.
The state must invest in everything needed to prevent fires and cope with natural disasters in general, which are pressing due to climate change, the Greens said, calling on the Christodoulides government to do “all that was not done by the previous government.”
Meanwhile, the ministry of agriculture announced on Tuesday it is accepting applications for relief funds from residents of the fire-damaged communities Paramythas, Limnatis, Korfi, Apaisia, Gerasa, Apsiou and Fassoula.
Damage declaration statements should be sent as early as possible to the local district agricultural offices to be considered valid, with a deadline of September 13, the ministry’s announcement said.
Those interested in more information are invited to contact the Limassol district agricultural office at 25 803927, 25 803912 and 25 803933.
For its part, the education ministry said it will provide counselling support to those in need – through the ministry’s psychology services at 25 822 850 and 25 822 365.