A Sunday night fire in the buffer zone, which was thought to have been contained Monday morning, reignited hours later with authorities on both sides going on full alert and UN officials saying the fire is once again under control.
According to UNFICYP officials, a fire started Sunday evening at 10:09pm in Dherynia, on a dirt road inside the UN buffer zone, about 2500 metres east of the planned checkpoint.
The fire then spread towards the north, burning grass and wild vegetation, while fire fighters in the south were standing by unable to intervene except if there was a change in the direction due to the fire raging near military land mines.
According to fire department officials, the fire was contained Monday morning but it reignited hours later, burning mainly wild vegetation.
The cause of the fire is under investigation while some sources pointed to a bush fire as the most likely scenario due to extreme hot weather
An UNFICYP press officer told Knews the second fire was “under control” as of 1pm but did not have further information as to what may have caused the incident or when exactly it started in the first place.
Reports said there were times when the fire spread into parts of the south, while both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot fire fighters remained in the area to take any action on their respective sides.
Both sides were cooperating through the mediation of UN officials, according to UNFICYP.
The cause of the fire is under investigation while some sources pointed to a bush fire as the most likely scenario due to extreme hot weather.
The fire was burning near the Famagusta General Hospital, which is in an area near the Dherynia crossing point that has yet to be opened to the public.
Bikers were in the area on Sunday carrying out a demonstration, protesting the killings of two Greek Cypriot bikers who were killed in August 1996 during riots in the buffer zone.
The opening of the Dherynia checkpoint was agreed between the two Cypriots leaders, President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci as part of a Confidence Building Measure (CBM).
But technical issues got in the way early on in the process.
Turkish Cypriots and the Turkish army raised security concerns over the proposed route, citing fears of annual demonstrations, such as annual memorial marches for the two Greek Cypriot bikers. After the two protesters were killed in 1996, another Turkish soldier was shot dead a month later in a revenge attack.
Greek Cypriots insisted on making use of the old road that leads to ghost-town Varoshia while Turkish Cypriots proposed a detour several hundred metres away to keep the route away from a military fence.
According to local media, the Greek Cypriot side argued that the current road was the “easiest, most cost-efficient, and reasonable choice.”