A total of three villages have been evacuated as homes and animals have been engulfed in flames as wildfires raged out of control in the Paphos district on Tuesday.

Psathi was the first village to be evacuated, before Choulou and Lemona were evacuated later in the day as an unrelated fire broke out nearby.

President Nikos Christodoulides “hastily” returned from Jordan on Tuesday evening, visiting the JRCC upon his arrival.

There, he hailed the “superhuman efforts” being made to tackle the blaze, but confirmed that it has not yet been brought under conrtol.

Additionally, he disclosed that the fire appears to have started in an illegal rubbish dump following initial investigations.

He also confirmed that the government would “respond immediately” to help those whose homes were destroyed.

Later in the evening, fire brigade spokesman Andreas Kettis said the situation is “relatively calm” and was keen to point out that “things could have been much worse”.

Speaking on the matter of where the fire may have started, he said there are “scattered rubbish dumps in the area”, and the possibility that the fire may have started in one of them will be evaluated once the fire has been put out.

However, the danger to human life has now passed, Paphos district office George Chrysapinis said on Tuesday evening.

He said the fire is now moving towards the village of Lemona and away from Psathi.

Additionally, he said he does not yet know how much damage has been caused and how many houses have burnt down, but said the district administration is ready, if required, to help in finding temporary accommodation for those affected.

A total of five aircraft are fighting the fires alongside multiple vehicles on the ground, while ambulances have been sent to the area to aid residents who have experienced breathing difficulties.

In addition, private individuals have taken injured animals to be treated by veterinarians.

Meanwhile, newly elected Paphos district governor Charalambos Pittokopitis described the fire as “tragic”.

He said he had been to the front of the fire, and that he had been in contact with the forestry department, expressing disappointment that forestry department director Savvas Iezekiel was not on the scene but at the Joint Rescue and Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Larnaca.

I do not believe this. A person who is proven to be experienced in fires, instead of being in the field, was in Larnaca, in the coordinating office,” he said, adding that he had then contacted the agriculture ministry’s director-general, who was in Crete.

“I requested, I demanded the immediate movement of Iezekiel to the field and fortunately I was later informed that he is here. I want to believe that with his experience and ability, he will help the most,” he added.

In addition, he said it is “worrying” that “not all the aerial firefighting equipment available to the Republic of Cyprus can be used as the personnel for some of it has not been trained.”

“We are in the middle of the summer season, with all this drought and all this heat, and still the staff have not been trained,” he said.

Elsewhere, President Nikos Christodoulides “hastily” returned from Jordan on Tuesday evening, visiting the JRCC upon his arrival.

Fire engines from across the district were scrambled as local residents pitched in in attempts to control the fires, with Psathi’s Ayia Paraskevi church also reportedly at risk.

Local resident Andreas Constantinou said no casualties have been reported, while other local residents said firefighting infrastructure in the area is currently insufficient, and that “this happens every year and proper measures are not taken”.

Meanwhile, fire brigade spokesman Andreas Kettis said the government’s Pyrsos plan has been activated, with a ministerial team convening at the JRCC to coordinate the firefighting efforts.

The defence, justice and agriculture ministers are all present, as is the fire brigade’s chief and the forestry department director.

Kettis added that efforts are being made on the government’s part to secure air assets from Jordan, Israel, Greece and the European Union.

The request from Jordan was made in person, with Christodoulides having been in the country for the Dead Sea Summit on the future of Gaza.

Christodoulides asked Jordanian King Abdullah for aerial support, with King Abdullah reportedly acquiescing and “immediately giving instructions to take whatever actions are needed to send the aircraft to Cyprus”.

Paphos police’s assistant operations chief Michalis Nikolaou said the fire in Psathi was at the entrance of the village and “heading dangerously” towards Ayios Dimitrianos.

The fire brigade said the fire started in an area of dry grass and low vegetation, though its exact cause is yet to be determined.

Three helicopters, one from the National Guard and two from Jordan were also dispatched earlier in the day as the fire intensified. Further forces were then called in from Limassol in addition to another helicopter.

The fire is currently raging between the villages of Polemi, Ayios Dimitrianos, Psathi, Drymou, Yolou and Drymia.