Fire from the Sky

Air Tractor dropping its load of water

Last Updated on August 13, 2023 by ADMIN-TOM

With the recent devastating wildfires worldwide, and in particular the destruction of the old and historic town of Lahaina on the Hawaiian Island of Maui, we in Cyprus dread the sound of helicopters and the AT (Air Tractor) fire fighting aircraft. These aircraft fly up from their base near the Paphos International airport and usually pass close to where we live, the helicopters trailing water as they go.

Last evening was no exception and the to and fro of these aircraft and their dedicated and crews usually mean they manage to control the fire while the heroic ground crews put the fires out.

But occasionally these frequent wildfires are started not by an idiot carelessly discarding a cigarette, but by a professional who should really know better.

Not long after moving from the UK to Cyprus in 2008, the following summer was hot, as always. Our house overlooked a valley which was frequently used by the Cyprus National Guard helicopters. These were old Russian Mil attack helicopters and the valley was ideal for crew training.

It was during one of these routine patrols that I was sat on my back porch. I watched as the two helicopters came in low through the valley. I’m always amazed at the skill of the pilots, but on this particular day the pilot must have been having an off day. He flew too low and clipped a live electric wire stretching pylon to pylon across the valley. The live wire flashed once as it fell onto the parched bushes below and then the fire started. It wasn’t a particular windy day, but the fire soon spread down the valley. I phoned the fire brigade at once and gave them the details. Within minutes ground fire appliances had arrived and they were quickly followed by helicopters.

It was an amazing, but also concerning, sight to see. It took the firefighters all day and into the night to get control and put the fires out. At the time I hoped I would never be so close to a wildfire again, but fires broke out twice more and we were evacuated once.

My heart goes out to anyone caught up in these devastating wildfires, especially where they lose loved ones, family pets and homes. Fingers crossed I’ve come close, but hope it never happens near me again.

Copyright © Tom Kane

PS Since publishing this piece about an hour ago, two ATs have flown over to fight yet another wildfire.

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The dream of living in the sun and taking life one small step at a time always seemed like a distant fantasy for us. But in 2008 my wife and I took the plunge and moved from the UK to Cyprus with our two trusty dogs, Harvey and Holly, also known as the ‘H’ Team. Our exciting journey was just beginning, but on our arrival in Larnaca airport it was the start of a wild night, and an even wilder journey of discovery.
From lost dogs to unforeseen expenses, a financial crisis to war across the water, we quickly found ourselves in way over their heads. Could we overcome our precarious situation, or would the move prove too much and we would be forever stuck in a foreign land? Find out in “A Pat on his Back” by Tom Kane.


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