Uncontrolled Wildfire Destroys Homes Near Paphos

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An uncontrolled wildfire ravaged the Paphos district on Tuesday, engulfing homes and animals in flames and forcing the evacuation of three villages.

The blaze initially erupted near Psathi village, prompting immediate evacuations. As the fire spiraled out of control, it spread towards the villages of Choulou and Lemona, triggering further evacuations.

"There is no longer a threat to human life," stated Paphos District Officer George Chrysapinis, adding that the fire was shifting away from Psathi towards Lemona. While the extent of the damage and the number of homes destroyed remained unclear, Chrysapinis confirmed that the district administration was prepared to provide temporary housing for those displaced.

Five aircraft and numerous ground-based firefighting vehicles battled the blaze, while ambulances were dispatched to assist residents experiencing breathing difficulties. Concerned citizens also sprang into action, transporting injured animals to veterinarians for care.

Newly elected Paphos District Governor Charalambos Pittokopitis described the fire as "tragic," emphasizing the urgency of the situation. He reported being at the fire's forefront, coordinating efforts with Forestry Department Director Savvas Iezekiel (based in Larnaca) and the Director-General of the Agriculture Ministry (in Crete).

Pittokopitis expressed concern over the availability of firefighting resources, noting that "not all the aerial firefighting equipment available to the Republic of Cyprus can be utilized as the personnel for some of it have not been trained," even amidst the peak summer heat and drought.

Meanwhile, President Nikos Christodoulides, returning "hurriedly" from Jordan, visited the JRCC Tuesday night.

Residents, instrumental in battling the flames, successfully protected Psathi's Ayia Paraskevi church from the encroaching fire. Fire trucks from across the district converged on the scene.

While no casualties were reported, according to local resident Andreas Constantinou, other residents voiced concerns about inadequate firefighting equipment in the area. They lamented that "this happens every year, and proper measures are not taken."

Fire Brigade spokesman Andreas Kettis confirmed the activation of the government's Pyrsos plan, with a ministerial team convening at the JRCC to coordinate firefighting efforts. The Ministers of Defence, Justice, and Agriculture joined the Director of the Forestry Department and the Chief of the Fire Brigade.

Kettis revealed the administration's efforts to secure firefighting aircraft from Greece, Israel, Jordan, and the European Union. Christodoulides personally requested assistance from Jordan while attending the Dead Sea Summit on Gaza's future. King Abdullah reportedly granted the request, immediately instructing the necessary actions for dispatching aircraft to Cyprus.

Michalis Nikolaou, Assistant Operations Chief for the Paphos police, described the Psathi fire as "heading dangerously" towards Ayios Dimitrianos, nearing the village entrance. While the fire's exact cause remains undetermined, the fire department reported its origin in an area of sparse vegetation and dry grass.

Three helicopters - two from Jordan and one from the National Guard - were deployed earlier as the fire intensified. An additional helicopter and forces from Limassol were subsequently dispatched.

Currently, the villages of Polemi, Ayios Dimitrianos, Psathi, Drymou, Yolou, and Drymia remain threatened by the blaze.

(Source: Cyprus Mail)

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