Wildfire in northern Lebanon scorches forest, 1 person dead

Wildfire in northern Lebanon scorches forest, 1 person dead
2 min read
A wildfire has ravaged a forest in north Lebanon, killing at least one person.
Late in the day, the fire was still advancing toward residential homes at the edge of the mountainous area [AFP/Getty]

A wildfire raged in a forested area of mountainous northern Lebanon on Wednesday, reaching just outside some residential homes and killing at least one young man who was helping firefighters put out the blaze, the civil defense said in a statement.

Firefighters, military helicopters and civilians battled the wildfire near the village of Qobayat in Akkar province that burned for hours and spread to nearby areas, the civil defense said.

Late in the day, the fire was still advancing toward residential homes at the edge of the mountainous area. Dozens of residents suffered from smoke inhalation, the National News Agency reported.

Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab called for urgent assistance from neighboring Cyprus. A three-day brush fire there earlier this month was described as the most destructive blaze in the country’s 61-year history as an independent republic.

The Qobayat area is described by many as having one of the most beautiful forests in Lebanon, with oak, pine and cedar trees. Lebanon’s civil defense said the fire destroyed large parts of the forest.

One young man who was helping to fight the fire was injured and died, the civil defense said.

Lebanon suffered devastating wildfires in October 2019 that lasted for more than two days and spread from the mountains in Chouf to just outside the capital Beirut. Lack of equipment and preparedness combined with high temperatures and gusty winds caused the fire to rage and destroy acres of forest.

The government's handling of the fires was among the factors that fueled nationwide protests days later, which were originally called because of arbitrary government economic policies.

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