Palestinian firefighters help stop spread of Lebanon's wildfires

Palestinian Civil Defence helps stop spread of raging wildfires across Lebanon
3 min read
15 October, 2019
Palestinian volunteer firefighters rushed to help put out raging wildfires across Lebanon.
Palestinian firefighters assisted Lebanese crews in trying to extinguish flames after fires broke out [AFP/Getty]
The Palestinian Civil Defence assisted Lebanese firefighters Tuesday in halting the spread of wildfires that have raged across southern and central Lebanon, according to reports on social media.

The volunteer firefighters rushed from Palestinian refugee camps to areas affected by the fires, such as Damour and the villages of Mechref and Dibbiyeh in the Chouf mountains.

"A very significant move from Palestinian Civil Defence supporting all our men and women fighting this wave of fires. Thanks for everyone helping," one person who witnessed the act tweeted.

The Palestinian Civil Defence operates in multiple Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Tamer al-Khatib, head of the Palestinian Civil Defence in Ain al-Hilweh, told the The Daily Star in 2018 that the volunteer crew was formed to put out fires in the camp.

Ain al-Hilweh, located near the southern port city of Sidon, is the largest of the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and home to some 55,000 people.

Read also: Palestinians resist Lebanon's suppressive labour measures

Blazes spread in different parts of Lebanon forcing some residents forced to flee their homes in the middle of the night on Monday as the flames reached residential areas in villages south of Beirut.

Fire engines were overwhelmed by the flames in the Mount Lebanon region early Tuesday, forcing the interior ministry to send riot police engines equipped with water cannons to help.

The attempt to put out at least 103 raging firefighters across the country has so far led to the death of one volunteer firefighter, who died as a result of a heart attack he suffered while trying to put out the fires in his hometown.

Two small aircraft were sent from the nearby Mediterranean island state of Cyprus and are helping in putting out the fires.

A heat wave hitting the region and strong winds helped intensify the fires in pine forests around Lebanon and three provinces in neighboring Syria.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that if the fires turn out to be intentional those behind it "will pay a price".

Social media users in Lebanon expressed outrage over the fires, linking its spread to a government corruption scandal.

The Daily Star reported that three Lebanese Army Sikorsky helicopters specialized in fighting fires were out of action because successive governments had neglected to finance their maintenance.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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