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Fired up

There is something so majestic about the image of fire-fighting helicopters flying down from the hills in Paphos, dipping their buckets into the sea then returning whence they came that you can forget for a second that any sighting of them is very bad news.
Somewhere, something and possibly someone is burning.
Last weekend in Paphos is a fine example. Two square kilometres of trees and crops were destroyed and livestock and a horse were burned to death in a blaze near Theletra and Yiolou that started on Saturday afternoon and took the better part of two days to get under control.
Summer fires are a regular threat in Cyprus with anything from a carelessly discarded cigarette butt to an innocently yet illegally started camp fire often the cause for devastating blazes. Military exercises, hunting activities, agricultural activity, short circuit of power lines and lightning are also the culprits.
Anyone who contributes to the start and spread of a fire has committed an offence and, if convicted, could be subject to five years in prison and or a fine of €25,000.
The most sickening news though, is when arson is behind a fire.
The fire service believes that last weekend’s incident in Paphos was caused by arson. Reliance on public tip-offs is critical for investigators, for some leads at least.
This is where I think more encouragement of public involvement needs to take place and, unfortunately, I think that cash needs to exchange hands.
In short, I think that we need a reward system for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of an arsonist. I also think that it needs to be publicised widely and regularly and that anonymity for anyone who provides information should be guaranteed (although, admittedly, this may be hard in a small place like Cyprus).
While I think that arson upsets people enough for them to provide tip offs without any cash reward, I also think that monetary incentives mobilises people.
I do not know for sure if there is such a system in Cyprus and neither could I get an answer from three people I called connected to the forestry department or the police.
I think that, considering how serious this problem is, a simple question like ‘is there a reward for providing relevant information on an arson incident’ should be easy to answer but apparently not.
In any case, if you see smoke or a fire call 1407 or 112. 

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