Cyprus’ firefighting capabilities have been boosted with two firefighting aircraft and two helicopters, the Forestry Department announced on Thursday.
The Department said that the two Americal “Air Tractor” planes were received on Monday and were acquired via a lease agreement with a Spanish company.
It was added that 75% of the cost for the lease (€1,060,000) is covered by the EU via the rescEU programme.
The aircraft are able to carry three tonnes of firefighting material and can conduct patrols while loaded, which the Forestry Department said is crucial for the timely response to a fire before it expands.
Two Russian Kamov helicopters also arrived on Tuesday, acquired by the Republic of Cyprus on lease. The helicopters arrived with their 24-member crew, the Forestry Department clarified.
The base of the two new planes will be Larnaca until the end of May and will then be transferred to Akrotiri and the two helicopters will be based at Paphos airport, the Department added, noting that their locations might shift based on firefighting requirements across the island.
Yesterday the Fire Service responded to a multitude of fire incidents, including a fire in Kokkinotrimithia in dry weeds and vegetation that started around 15:30 and took nearly three hours to bring under control.
In an announcement this morning, the Fire Service said that in the large scale effort participated members of the police, four Fire Service vehicles, two Forestry Department vehicles, one mobile unit of the Game Service, one vehicle of the Nicosia District Office as well as a United Nations unit as the fire had also expanded in the buffer zone.
“Animal farming units were in danger but were protected by the firefighting teams. The dog shelter based in the area was not affected,” the Fire Service said, adding that the fire burned about 1 km2 of land and that its cause is being investigated in collaboration with the police.