The Foreign Residents in the TRNC – TFR

Forest Fires

by Ralph Kratzer

Forest FireNow the winter season is definitely over, not much rain to be expected for the next few months!

I want to talk about one danger on our beautiful island which should not be underestimated, the danger of forest fires….

Here is a report from 2012:

Wildfires
Wildfires (Photo credit: agrilifetoday)

In the north of the island of Cyprus, around the coastal town of Kyrenia, forest fires have broken out that have destroyed about 40,000 sqm of land and a large number of olive trees. The fire broke out near the popular tourist premises “EZIC” on the link road between Kyrenia and Lapta, state radio BRT reported. The Fire Department of the port city and other forces spent hours trying to prevent a further outbreak of fire. The Turkish-speaking north of the island of Cyprus is repeatedly plagued by violent forest fires. In 1995, over 70 square kilometers of forest were destroyed by severe fires around the harbour town of Kyrenia. To date, tree populations have not recovered around this coastal region again.” (source: Trnc munich, brt)

So, let´s be careful!

Forest Fire_3A forest fire can be divided into three phases: Most initially  start by the ignition of the grass and the dry undergrowth. It comes as a ground fire, which  can be easily controlled. If it grows into a wildfire, it can skip to the treetops especially in coniferous stands. This quickly leads to a crown fire and to a rapid spread of the flames. To fight a crown fire is much harder and it can grow easily to the third stage, a total fire storm. This cannot be controlled any more.

In the Mediterranean, the average annual forest fire area has quadrupled since the 1960s.

The reasons are mainly caused by negligence and deliberate arson, coupled with extreme heat and drought in the summer months and degraded forests, in which small fires can spread quickly. Especially, large-scale fires in monocultures or bushland have assumed alarming proportions in recent years. Every year about 50,000 cases of wildfire affect Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, but also the island of Cyprus is not spared. In Spain, the number of forest fires has increased tenfold since the 1960s until today. In Portugal, the tenfold increase has been in the period since 1980.

Forest Fire_2Only 4% of the world’s forest fires are occurring by natural causes such as extreme weather events (high temperatures, drought and storms), lightning strikes or volcanic eruptions. Most forest fires are caused by humans, either intentionally by burning and arson or carelessness, eg by fire, discarded cigarette butts or matches. Glass bottles and shards act like burning glasses in the sun’s rays and ignite dry leaves or grass. An often underestimated cause is also hot catalytic converters and exhaust systems of cars and motorcycles that are parked on forest soils. In addition, power lines can be triggers when sparks ignite the adjacent forest.

How to prevent a wildfire:

• Contact the local fire department or the police if you notice an unattended or out-of-control fire.

• Never leave a campfire or BBQ unattended. Completely extinguish the fire by dousing it with water and stirring the ashes until cold – before sleeping or leaving the campsite.

• Take care when using fuel heated lanterns, stoves and heaters. Make sure lighting and heating devices are cool before refueling. Avoid spilling flammable liquids and store fuel away from appliances.

• Do not discard cigarettes, matches, and smoking materials from moving vehicles, or anywhere on park grounds. Be certain to completely extinguish cigarettes before disposing of them.

• Follow local ordinances when burning yard waste. Avoid backyard burning in windy conditions, and keep a shovel, water, and fire retardant nearby to keep fires in check. Remove all flammables from the yard when burning.

What to do in the event of forest fire:

  • Call the fire brigade!
  • If you are at home, switch off all gasoil, natural gas and butane gas valves.
  • Remove all inflammable objects surrounding the home and remove furniture from the garden.
  • Close the doors and windows of the house to stop sparks carried by the wind from entering.
  • Shutters should be closed as well.
  • Leave garden hoses in such a position that they will reach any part of the house.
  • Fill the bathtub and sinks with water.
  • Keep the car in the garage and ensure all car windows are shut. Close all garage doors and disconnect electric doors.
  • Leave valuable belongings and documents in a safe place.
  • Ensure fire fighters have easy access to the property, and to pools and ponds.
  • Keep useful things like first aid kit, simple fume respirator, ax, shovel and spade in sight .
If the fire reaches your property:
  • Stay calm.
  • Close the door, windows and any vents in order to stop smoke from entering. Try to stay indoors.
  • Watch the house carefully, particularly on the side where the fire is approaching.
  • Use wet towels, rugs and sheets, as well as established water reserves.
  • Extinguish all sparks and embers. Check unoccupied areas to ensure that no spark or ember has reached it.
  • Listen to the radio and TV.
  • Avoid using the telephone to prevent congesting the line, unless you are reporting to the authorities.
  • Seek refuge in the urban area, on the beach or another safe place.

The most important phone numbers here in the TRNC are:

POLICE 
Emergencies 155
General Directorate 228 3411; Girne 815 2125; Lefkoşa 228 3311; Gazi Mağusa 366 5310; Güzelyurt; 714 2140 Lapta; 821 8512

FIRE 
Emergencies 199 ; Forest Fires Hotline 177
Girne 815 2111; Lefkoşa 227 1259; Gazi Mağusa 366 5389; Güzelyurt 714 2200

AMBULANCE 
Emergencies 112

HOSPITAL 
Girne 815 2266/815 2254; Lefkoşa 228 5441;
Gazi Mağusa 366 2876/366 5328; Güzelyurt 714 2125

CIVIL DEFENCE ORGANISATION Any disaster/accident! /emergency:
Lefkoşa 228 3036; Girne 815 4985