Local crews in Nicosia’s Strovolos municipality have been busy removing scrap wood stashed away in abandoned buildings in an effort to crack down on illegal lambradjia bonfires on upcoming Holy Saturday.
According to local media, crews in various municipalities have been coordinating efforts with law enforcement throughout the Greek Orthodox holy week, with reports from Strovolos municipality saying less wood was being removed day by day leading up to Easter Sunday.
Strovolos Mayor Andreas Papacharalambous described the overall situation as “shameful” and said crews accompanied by police officers were still discovering hidden locations with wood piles.
Strovolos mayor calls situation "shameful"
“Some people didn’t get the message that they have to self-isolate for the sake of all,” the mayor added.
According to Cypriot tradition, locals gather around a huge lambradjia bonfire typically in a church yard or an empty lot for the burning of Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Jesus according to their faith, based on an Easter-time ritual originated in European Christian communities.
Police Chief Kypros Michaelides sent out a message that cops won't go easy on youngsters who light bonfires and throw firecrackers
Local children typically begin gathering wood a few days early, often taking it from neighbours and even stealing from construction sites or public schools. They stack the wood metres high, as neighbourhoods compete for the most impressive lambradjia, which goes up in flames at midnight.
Maintenance crews in Strovolos were tipped off by authorities on Thursday after receiving information from citizens regarding lambradjia sightings in Agios Vasilios area as well as public housing areas on the municipality’s southern outskirts.
Truckloads of scrap wood had also been confiscated earlier this week within Strovolos municipal limits, while Thursday’s campaign yielded fewer quantities according to media reports.
Police have stepped up their patrols amid strict movement restrictions ordered by the government amid the coronavirus pandemic, while Police Chief Kypros Michaelides sent out a message that cops won't go easy on youngsters who light bonfires and throw firecrackers.
Police said they would continue their patrols and operations on Friday and Saturday, all the way late into the night.