A fire near Larnaca salt lake which is a protected Natura 2000 area was started deliberately under the ‘sick and unfounded’ impression that this would eliminate mosquitoes in the area, Mayor Andreas Vyras told CNA on Monday.
The fire on Saturday afternoon burned 10 hectares of dry grass, wild vegetation and reeds.
“We believe the fire was started maliciously because of mosquitoes in the area. Those who started the fire believe burning the reeds will minimise the problem with the mosquitoes, something we consider sick and unfounded, since the reeds will grow back in the next few days,” he said.
A meeting was held with representatives from the fire service, the forestry department, the environment service and Larnaca municipality on site this morning to discuss widening the nature trial and cutting the reeds. Another meeting is scheduled on Thursday to discuss suggestions from the forestry department, the fire service and the municipality, he added.
The meeting will discuss how much money will be required to implement some of the measures so that there is no repetition of the Saturday’s destruction, the mayor said.
The fire service has been asking for the nature trail to be widened so that its fire trucks can respond to fires. It has also been pushing for the area to be cleared of bushes and grass and for the creation of wider anti-fire zone. The municipality’s services are ready to move this process forward quickly, he said.
Vyras said the municipality has asked police to investigate and has received assurances that it will.
The fire broke out a little after 5 pm on Saturday, south of Phaneromeni Avenue in a wetland with dry vegetation, acacias and reeds in the Larnaca salt lake area.
Six fire trucks from fire service, four from the forestry department, one from the game service, a police helicopter and mobile units from civil defence all responded to the fire. Their efforts were hampered by strong winds but they managed to contain the fire a little after 8 pm.
Also on Monday, the environment service expressed its sorrow about the fire noting that the sale lake were part of the Natura 2000 network because of natural habitats of importance to biodiversity and to the birds and fauna.
It added that it is “in full understanding” with the municipality to widen the nature trail.