Authorities have agreed on a series of measures on how to handle this year’s Easter bonfires as they seek to exercise some control over what many see as a time honoured tradition and others as a dangerous practice.
Although starting fires without a licence is against the law, police, local authorities and churches have decided to allow bonfires in some locations, as was the case last year.
However, according to police, the uncontrolled gathering of large amounts of wood will not be tolerated by authorities.
Also, police have decided to inspect the piles of wood to ensure that there are no dangerous materials among them.
Police will carry out patrols outside churches, school yards and other public spaces, which will be intensified on Fridays and Saturdays, philenews reported.
At a meeting yesterday, the fire service asked police to accompany it whenever it is called to extinguish Easter bonfires, as last year youth stoned fire trucks.
Regarding firecrackers, police said that they have already confiscated an undisclosed amount. Searches for firecrackers will intensify in the next days at checkpoints, schools, kiosks and other locations where youths congregate.
According to police, most of the firecrackers are imported from Turkey and reach Republic-controlled areas through Pyla.
The Orthodox Easter bonfires (lampratzia) or Burning of Judas is a ritual where an effigy of Judas is burned on the night of Easter Saturday.
But in some neighbourhoods it has turned into a competition among rival groups of young people seeking bragging rights on who can build the biggest bonfire, in some cases resorting to stealing wood from building sites and other locations in order to do so.