Lebanon is sending two helicopters to join Greek and Jordanian aircraft in helping European Union member Cyprus fight a blaze that has scorched miles of mountainous terrain, an official said Monday.
Cyprus Foreign Ministry spokesman Theodoros Gotsis told The Associated Press that neighboring Lebanon is expected to send a pair of choppers as the wildfire continues to reignite on several fronts.
Two Greek Canadair aircraft have been dispatched to help douse the fire in the mountains about 17 kilometers north of the coastal town of Limassol. Jordan is sending three aircraft of its own, including two Super Puma helicopters and a Russian-made Mi26 helicopter. The multinational effort is battling a blaze that has scorched as much as 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.
Fire Department spokesman Andreas Kettis posted on the platform known as X, formerly Twitter, that although the fire was brought under partial control early Monday, it rekindled along several areas, forcing air and ground crews to again mobilize.
The spokesman had earlier posted that ground crews were working to hem in the blaze by building firebreaks.
Officials expressed concerns that the fire could rekindle because of expected strong winds later in the day.
Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou tweeted on X that he has given instructions for an initial estimate of the damage to private and state-owned property.
Officials said the residents of three villages have returned to their homes after being instructed to evacuate as a precaution.
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 overnight 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.