At least two people have died after battling the massive forest fire sweeping through the mountains of Cyprus, which have been fanned by high winds and scorching temperatures.
Two firefighters from the Forestry Department, identified as 49-year-old Andreas Sofokleous and 44-year-old Marios Aristodelous, both succumbed to their wounds after a vehicle overturned, initially seriously wounding the two individuals. Aristodelous was inside the vehicle when it overturned while Sofokleous was killed when the truck hit him while he was fighting the blaze.
Sofokleous leaves behind a wife and five children.
Cyprus Police Spokesperson Andreas Angelides told SigmaLive that the circumstances of the accident are being investigated. The blaze started on Sunday with local authorities still fighting it, along with assistance from Greece, Israel, France and Italy.
The Soleas area hardest hit by the blaze is covered by pine forest and fruit orchards. The blaze, thought to be one of the worst in recent years, also coincided with the first major heatwave of the year, creating tinderbox conditions.
The fire was possibly triggered by an attempt to burn dry stubble or, according to unconfirmed reports, a 12-year-old boy is responsible for causing the fire as he was playing with a lighter in his grandfather’s yard when at some point a fire broke out. The boy reportedly told Police that he had tried to put the fire out but it quickly got out of control and spread rapidly.