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The Mountain of Blue Fire

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7/02/2007

Cyprus fights huge mountain blaze

June 29, 2007

Cyprus -- A huge fire in central Cyprus has destroyed several holiday homes and forced the evacuation of at least two villages, officials say.

The blaze is raging in the area of Saittas in the Troodos mountains, some 55km (30 miles) south-west of the capital Nicosia.

Firefighters - backed by helicopters - are tackling the blaze, and Cyprus has called on Italy and Israel for help.

So far there have been no reports of any serious injuries.

Agriculture Minister Photis Photiou described the fire as "a big catastrophe".

He said the blaze was threatening the Troodos forest - one of the most scenic areas of the eastern Mediterranean island.


The fire is being fanned by strong winds and high temperatures

Strong winds and a scorching heatwave had helped the fire to spread rapidly, officials said.

Helicopters from British military bases on Cyprus are helping to douse the flames.

Firefighting aircraft are also expected to arrive from Italy and Israel within hours.

The heatwave has been blamed for the deaths of three elderly people in Cyprus in the past week.

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