IAF personnel have been in Cyprus for over 24 hours and are aiding the efforts to extinguish the fire that broke out on the island. Commander of the Firefighting Squadron: “We are working together and in synchronization in order to significantly aid Cyprus”

Talya Yariv | Translation: Ofri Aharon

On Sunday morning, an IAF Hercules C-130 took off from Israel to Cyprus with the Israeli aid mission aboard, following Cyprus’ request for aid in extinguishing the fire that erupted in the western area of the Island just 24 hours beforehand. The central and largest fire, for which the IAF was called, erupted near Paphos and stretched out over five square kilometers of forest.

Throughout the firefighting operation that was led by the Israeli Embassy in Cyprus the Israeli and Cypriot forces took many security measures in order to ensure that the fire would not spread again. A few hours ago, an additional fire erupted in the area and the IAF personnel that were still in Cyprus are participating in the efforts to extinguish it. “The aerial firefighting unit has been working since yesterday morning in order to aid Cyprus”, shared Lt. Col. Eran, Commander of the Aerial Firefighting Squadron and the leader of the Israeli Aid force. “The forces in the field are working professionally and in full cooperation with the local forces. We are working together and in synchronization in order to significantly aid Cyprus”.

The IAF Assists the Fire Fighting Effort in Cyprus

Photography: Talya Yariv

Many authorities, one mission
The mission was made up of a number of units and civilian companies, led by the Aerial Firefighting Squadron that sent three firefighting aircraft. “There is a mix of many different forces that need to conduct one mission”, said Col. Oren, the Commander of the Cooperation Unit, to the Israeli Mission. “I call it Zionism. It is a great honor to arrive as a strong aid team and help with extinguishing efforts”.

The Israeli aid delegation was spilt into three main centers in the city of Paphos – the ATC personnel were used as a war room in the airport in which the firefighting aircraft took off, the Cooperation personnel that were positioned in vantage points and guided the aircraft and the aircrew members that took off to drop the fire retardant material near the fire and returned to the airport to refill the aircraft multiple times. Representatives from “Fire and Rescue” joined the IAF personnel and took charge of the operation in the field, representatives of “Elbit Systems” were in charge of the technical aspect and maintaining the firefighting aircraft and the “Chim-Nir” personnel that operated them.

Yesterday, the President of Cyprus called the Israeli PM and expressed his gratitude and appreciation to Israel for the significant aid that it delivered and also arrived at the Operation Management Center and asked for additional aid.

The IAF Assists the Fire Fighting Effort in Cyprus

Photography: Talya Yariv

“The most suitable time for operational activity”
The deployment to Cyprus was the firefighting squadron’s first operational deployment and two months ago to the personnel exercised a fire extinguishing scenario in Cyprus. “We learned lessons from the exercise we conducted in April”, shared Capt. Alon, Commander of the Field Department in the Firefighting Squadron. “The exercise prepared us in the best way possible for the current scenario which helped us arrive prepared. We are currently in a great time and at the most suitable time for operational activity”.

The IAF Assists the Fire Fighting Effort in Cyprus

Photography: Talya Yariv