Forest Fire Spreads in North Algeria, Leaving 26 Dead
According to Algeria’s interior minister, at least 26 people were killed and dozens more were injured in forest fires that destroyed 14 regions in northern Algeria on Wednesday, August 18th.
Kamal Beldjoud informed state television that 24 people perished in fires in El Tarf, a town near the border of Tunisia, and two others died in Setif.
According to local media, at least 200 people have suffered burns and respiratory issues.
On Thursday morning, firefighters were still battling to contain several blazes with the help of helicopters.
According to the civil protection service in Setif, the two people who fell victim in the town were “a 58-year-old mother and her 36-year-old daughter.”
Officials report that the wildfire flames have reached dozens of homes and villages.
Officials have reported about 39 fires raging across northern Algeria, and they warned that scorching winds could spread the flames much further.
People were spotted fleeing their homes in Souk Ahras, farther east near Algeria’s border with Tunisia, as fires spread before firefighting helicopters arrived.
According to an earlier count, 41 people in Souk Ahras experienced respiratory problems, while four people in Souk Ahras were treated for burns. According to media accounts, over 400 citizens have been evacuated from affected areas.
Still on Forest Fire in North Algeria…
The state-run Algeria Press Service (APS) reports that fire trucks and helicopters have been attempting to extinguish the fires in the mountainous region of eastern Algeria.
Helicopters dropped water on fires in three wilayas (provinces), including Souk Ahras, using Bambi buckets.
Since the beginning of August, 106 fires have erupted in Algeria, destroying over 2,500 hectares of forest. Said Sadek, an Egyptian political sociologist, said that unprecedented temperatures in Northern Africa have created the environment for wildfires. According to Sadek, “The whole area of North Africa from Morocco to Algeria to Tunisia [is] facing big challenges. The weather is changing, and they are suffering from water shortages and extreme heat, rising heat, that are pushing that.”
With Wednesday’s death toll, the total number of individuals killed in wildfires this summer now stands at 30.
Algeria is Africa’s largest country, with a forest area of barely 4.1 million hectares (10.1 million acres).
Forest fires ravage the northern part of the country every year, an issue exacerbated by climate change. According to Beldjoud, who reports that 106 flames have erupted in Algeria since August, destroying 800 hectares of forest and 1,800 hectares of woodland,
Last year, forest fires ravaged northern Algeria, killing at least 90 people and damaging more than 100,000 hectares of forest.
Beldjoud accused arsonists of a string of fires in Algeria’s Kabyle area last August, claiming that “only criminal hands” could explain “the simultaneous breakout of roughly 50 fires across several localities.” He firmly believes that the fires that are currently ravaging the nation and leaving many without homes were caused by arsonists.