NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Greece on Monday dispatched two Canadair fire-fighting aircraft after a call for assistance from fellow European Union member Cyprus to help fight a blaze that has scorched miles of mountainous terrain.
Jordan is already helping with three aircraft of its own, including two Super Puma helicopters and a Russian-made Mi26 helicopter to douse the fire in the mountains about 11 miles (17 kilometers) north of the coastal town of Limassol. The multinational effort is battling a blaze that has scorched as much as 4 square miles (10 square kilometers) of land.
Environment Ministry Secretary Andreas Gregoriou, who is coordinating firefighting efforts, told state-run Cyprus News Agency that talks are ongoing with Israel for additional air support if needed.
Greece’s Civil Protection Ministry said 20 tons of fire retardant is also on its way to Cyprus while the Canadairs are expected to be operating within a day.
Justice Minister Anna Koukkides-Procopiou posted on the platform known as X, formerly Twitter, that the fire is under control, but that strong winds are expected later in the day which could reignite the blaze.
Officials said the residents of three villages have returned to their homes after being instructed to evacuate as a precaution.
Fire crews on the ground have surrounded the blaze and are working to build firebreaks to prevent its spread, according to Fire Department spokesman Andreas Kettis.
Gregoriou, who surveyed the area by helicopter along with the country’s fire chief, told state broadcaster CyBC that “hundreds” of fire fighters, including volunteers, managed to contain the fire because winds had died down considerably.
The fire started Friday, but authorities said a day later it had been contained. Gregoriou said the blaze apparently reignited on its own, dispelling suggestions that it could’ve been the work of arsonists.
Associated Press writer Elena Becatoros in Athens, Greece contributed.