Dept. Dason: Difficult this summer – Seventy fires in July

"It's a difficult summer, perhaps one of the most difficult"

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It is a difficult summer, perhaps one of the most difficult, said, in his statements to KYPE, the Director of the Forestry Department, Charalambos Alexandrou, stating that in July the average number of fires in the area of ​​responsibility of the Forestry Department was 70 this year, while it was 30 fires in other years, i.e. more than double.

Asked how he sees the situation today in terms of the fire compared to the previous days, Mr. Alexandrou said that the situation is definitely even better, but there are still some points in the perimeter that cause some concern. "That's why we can say that the fire is not yet fully under control, at least today must pass and especially the noon and afternoon hours when there will be the highest wind intensity and it is the highest wind intensity that can create some serious resurgence for us," he noted. So, he declared, "we have to wait for today as well".

Answering a question, Mr. Alexandrou said that they made another great effort, an over-effort, because there was great fear, great concern of expansion, and the easternmost front had to be stopped to stop the advance of the fire to the east and not to enter of the valley of Germasogeia.

"We didn't want this thing to happen under any circumstances, because if it did then we would have the disaster. The fire could no longer be dealt with. I really feel strongly that I do not want it to be heard from my own lips that a fire cannot be dealt with because you may want to but you may not deal with a fire. Fires are dealt with where they can be dealt with. They are not treated where we want," he added.

Mr. Alexandrou noted that the Forestry Department's strength still in the area is 50% of the Forestry Department's strength.

When asked how long they will remain in the area, Mr. Alexandrou said that they will remain, because apart from the fact that there is a large perimeter, there are difficult spots due to the topography and he added that the effort is being made by the ground forces to completely extinguish the fire.

Flying means, he continued, will help but not extinguish the fronts.

"The fronts are completely extinguished by ground forces. There are some conditions, it is the topography. It's some big trees, which can burn for days, the roots can burn and you have a fire in the unburned area. This had happened in the Solia fire four weeks from the date of the start of the fire, we had through a root, not exactly at the fire boundary but some meters into the unburned root area, which was burning for days and the focus of the fire came out of the ground" , he added.

Asked if, before their complete withdrawal from the fire areas, there will be an inspection, Mr. Alexandrou said that this inspection is being done and added that what will be done - if everything goes well - from tomorrow the gradual reduction of the staff will begin .

"We will not completely abandon the positions we have. It's just that every position we have will be reduced in strength," he noted.

Mr. Alexandrou stated, at the same time, regarding the burned area that the first fire is two and a half square kilometers and the new fire is six kilometers.

Answering a question about whether the coordination center of the Forestry Department will remain in the Apsio area where it was set up, the Director of the Forestry Department said that it will definitely remain until tomorrow morning and tomorrow morning when the assessment is done it will be one of the points which will evaluate whether he will stay or leave.

When asked if there is an indication of where the fire started, Mr. Alexandrou said that what they know is that it started from a rekindling of the previous fire and added regarding the initial fire, as Director of the Forestry Department he received information that there was some information which he is investigating the police.

Commenting on what we mean by the responsibility area of ​​the Forestry Department, Mr. Alexandrou said that the Forestry Department is responsible, it is responsible for the state forests and in a zone two kilometers from the state forests and added that in the rest of the countryside is the Fire Service.

"There is planning. Every fire from the first moment it breaks out is evaluated. If the assessment of the fire is done from the first stage, then there is both from the Forestry Department, when we have a fire in the area of ​​responsibility of the Fire Department, the forces of the Forestry Department are called and with a specific instruction that we take the front to help the Fire Department for to remain freer in the protection of communities, protection of homes and other properties, etc. If we now have a fire in the area of ​​responsibility of the Forestry Department, the Fire Service again comes to the rescue, in exactly the same way, with the same reasoning", he added.

Because, continued Mr. Alexandrou, the main concern in every fire - and it must be understood by the world - is to stop the front.

"If the front is not stopped it means that the fire will continue to expand and we will continue to be under more pressure to protect communities, cottages or other properties. So, at all costs, the first concern must be to stop the front in the specific fire we were talking about, the eastern front," he noted.

So, the Forestry Department again remains integral to the front and the Fire Service helps protect communities and protect country homes, he added. “In short, we act as one body, Fire Service and Forestry Department, and each service does the job it knows best. For the Department of Forestry to extinguish the front and the Fire Service to protect the communities and residences and human lives which is the number one priority is the protection of human lives", he added.

There is a hierarchy, Mr. Alexandrou said, adding that it is human lives, homes, the world's property and certainly our forests and the natural environment.

Answering a question, the Director of the Forestry Department said that as a Forestry Department their work was the front and not only the easternmost but it was also the northern front, i.e. they are east of the village of Apaisia, Apsiou, Mathikoloni and from Mathikoloni to Fasoula up to the north of Beans.

“This was the front that the Forestry Department took over and continues to monitor. There's a reason why. In addition to being the most difficult with strong relief, we are always afraid of a fire that will spread from the south to the north. If it lies from south to north the conditions are much more difficult. A fire that will spread from north to south, certainly there are always risks, but comparatively speaking, the conditions are always easier when a fire moves south instead of north," he added.

Asked about this, Mr. Alexandrou said that it is a difficult summer, perhaps one of the most difficult.

"We started off really well because the prevailing weather conditions were mild at lower temperatures, but then we got into this prolonged heatwave that created these conditions for us to have this faster spread of fires, making the job even more difficult. dealing with fires in the initial stages", he emphasized.

"In July the average, I always talk about the fires in the area of ​​responsibility of the Forestry Department, while there were 30 fires, this year we had 70, more than double. You realize that it's not just the number, it's also the fires we were called to deal with, how difficult they were," he concluded.

Source: KYPE