Is North Cyprus Prepared For Wildfires?

Kantara Fire
[Mersinlik Fire – 2022]
The approaching summer months bring an increased risk of wildfires, Yeniduzen reports.

 A fire that broke out in Limassol last week raised questions about how prepared North Cyprus is for such incidents. In contrast to the measures taken in the south, where the Forestry Department is preparing to tackle wildfires with 8 aircraft and 800 additional firefighters, there is no budget allocation for helicopter procurement in the TRNC Forestry Department.

According to Ercan Poyraz, the Director of the Forestry Department, helicopters* from the Turkish Armed Forces have the capability to extinguish fires if needed. He also mentioned the possibility of seeking assistance from Turkey, British bases, or the south if necessary.

Poyraz emphasised that currently, there is no budget for helicopter procurement in the Forestry Department. Regarding the helicopters previously sent from Turkey, he explained that they are provided based on a protocol between the two countries, with their availability depending on the timing and need.

He highlighted that helicopters belonging to the Security Forces have firefighting capabilities, mentioning the acquisition of firefighting equipment for them after the wildfire disaster in Mersinlik. He also noted the potential for seeking assistance from British bases, the south, or Turkey if required.

Poyraz mentioned the formation of wildfire teams and ongoing efforts such as the clearing of firebreaks by machinery in various areas. He urged people to be vigilant and reminded the public that setting fires, except in designated picnic areas, is strictly prohibited during the fire season from May 1st to October 31st.

 Poyraz emphasised that those causing fires resulting in more than one hectare of damage could face fines of up to 100 times the minimum wage.

 He urged the public to report any fires they see using the emergency hotlines 177 or 199.

*Last June it was reported that a helicopter had been sent over from Turkey on standby to fight any fires that might break out. This has been the practise for the last three years, the report said. [Ed.]

Yeniduzen

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