Fire Service spokesman Andreas Kettis has told CNA that 476 fires broke out across Cyprus in the last 15 days, of which 450 were at the countryside.
Kettis said that the spike in fires has been attributed to human activity, either by negligence or arson.
Last May’s figures are not far off from May of this year, with 693 fires recorded for that month in 2019 and close to 600 so far in May 2020.
Asked to comment on the causes behind the recent spike in fires and whether they happened by chance, Kettis said that “as far as the Fire Service is concerned, fires don’t happen by chance. This is highly unlikely and requires exceptionally favourable conditions. Nor do winds create fires, but simply favour them. The same applies for high temperatures.
“You need a spark to have fire, which is then boosted by the factors of wind and high temperature. For a spark to form it means you have human activity, may that be a lit discarded cigarette, using metal cutting tools, cooking at picnic sites and so on,” Kettis explained.
He also mentioned that the Fire Service in collaboration with other state first responders has ramped up patrols in view of the summer period.
“We staffed a while ago all the countryside stations and observatories. There are daily patrols during rush hours, including by air using Forestry Department aircraft,” he said.
Kettis finally called on the public to be particularly careful as they are the catalyst for containing fires.
“No matter how much we try, people have the last word. They need to be careful, avoid any activities that may cause a fire and, if they see a fire, alert first responders immediately to enable a swift reaction.
“The public is also encouraged to inform police should they witness suspicious or irresponsible behaviour to facilitate investigations and hinder perpetrators.
“Many have already appeared before the court, many have been questioned by police and there are already three arrests this year, all thanks to the public’s contribution,” he concluded.