Lebanon battled rapidly spreading wildfires for a third straight day on Friday after destroying pine forests and threatening homes in northern regions.
The fire, which broke out in the remote Akkar region of Lebanon on Wednesday, “spreads rapidly over large areas,” Agriculture Minister Abbas Mortada told AFP.
“It is spreading in all directions” fanned by high winds, Mortada said, adding that it had reached neighboring Syria.
The blaze, which killed a 15-year-old volunteer firefighter and forced many from their homes, accelerated overnight, according to the national news agency.
“The fires were out of control in the Jabal Akroum region” which straddles the border, ANI said.
# photo1 ″ The area affected by the fire expanded considerably during the night (…) as orchards, farmland and some houses evacuated by their inhabitants approached, ”he said.
There is no official estimate of the size of the affected area.
The military deployed two helicopters on Friday morning to help put out the flames and more local volunteers joined the firefighting efforts, ANI said.
The Red Cross treated a volunteer with breathing difficulties, he added.
George Abou Moussa of the Lebanese Civil Defense said firefighting teams were working to contain the blaze.
# photo2 ″ But there are areas we cannot reach, ”he told AFP.
According to Mortada, the cash-strapped government is looking for outside help.
“The Lebanese government does not have access to many firefighting planes,” and is pinning its hopes on aid from Cyprus, Greece and neighboring Syria, Mortada said.
For its part, Syria said it had succeeded in containing the fires spreading from Lebanese territory.
“The fire that spread from Lebanese territory to (…) Qusayr region has been completely extinguished,” the state news agency SANA reported, citing the director of Syrian civil defense.
The government’s failure to contain the devastating forest fires in October 2019 was one of the triggers of an unprecedented nationwide protest movement against the perceived incompetence and corruption of public officials.
© 2021 AFP