There seems to be no end to the forest fires in Cyprus that have claimed four lives. Helicopters and firefighting planes are trying to control the flames. But they can’t be deployed in the dark: “We’re afraid the winds will turn,” says the Dutchman, Christine Jansen, who lives on the island.
The fire spread over the past three days from the Troodos Mountains, north of the cities of Limassol and Larnaca. It is an area with a lot of dense vegetation and because of the strong winds the fire spread quickly around it. The forest fire started near the village of Arakapas. “It passed through the village like a hurricane, destroying everything,” said one of the officials of the small community.
The authorities suspect that the four dead are Egyptian workers. The men, aged between 22 and 29, were working in a tomato greenhouse and believed to have tried to escape a truck fire via a mountain road. It is believed that the car went off the road and they could not escape on foot.
The island experienced a heat wave this week, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees. Police arrested a 67-year-old man. Around the time the fire broke out, he was said to have set the garbage on fire.
“Yesterday the fire was still about 30 kilometers from my house and today it’s close to 10 kilometers,” Janssen says. She has been living in Cyprus for more than twelve years. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before.” From her home, she drove her car to the area where it caught fire. “It was an incredibly long fire-snake that traveled through the mountains to where I was standing. Many farmers in the area let their flocks of goats and sheep roam free over the mountains. They probably all got burned.”
Jansen encountered this situation near a forest fire:
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