The major forest fire that killed four people in Cyprus this weekend has now been brought under “full control”, the island’s agriculture department has announced – but not before it burnt down homes and destroyed wildlife.
Some 34 square miles of forest and farmland were razed by the fire, the worst in Cyprus’s history, an area larger than Glasgow or Exeter and equivalent to around 16,500 football fields.
The blaze broke out in the community of Arakapas on Saturday before spreading through a mountainous region near the cities of Limassol and Larnaca. Smoke was visible in the capital of Nicosia 45 miles away.
Civil defence volunteers responding to the incident found the bodies of four victims close to the community of Odou, believed to be Egyptian labourers who had gone missing on Saturday morning.
“An area of about 55 square kilometers covered with forest vegetation and agricultural crops burned in the fire,” Cyprus’s ministry of agriculture said in a statement.
“Residences and other private properties were destroyed by the fire. Due to the fire, four people near the street community died.”
The ministry added that, as of this morning, the fire is “fully under control”, but resurgences are possible.
More than 600 people helped to bring the enormous fire under control after help was sent from abroad.
British forces at two military bases in Cyprus joined the effort, alongside fire-fighting aircraft from Canada, Greece and Italy and Cyprus’s fire department and National Guard.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but police arrested a 67-year-old man reportedly seen burning stubble in nearby fields and remanded him for eight days.
Police also said that recent temperatures of more than 40C meant that the possibility of wildfires was “very high”.
The fire spread between the communities of Arakapa, Eptagonia, Acapnou, Oras, Melini, Sykopetra, Street, Agion Vavatsinias and Vavatsinias before it was brought under control.
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