BEIRUT (AP) – A forest fire raged in a wooded area in northern Lebanon on Wednesday, reaching just outside some residential houses and killing a 15-year-old who was helping firefighters put out the blaze , announced the Civil Defense and the State News Agency.
Firefighters, military helicopters and civilians battled the forest fire near the village of Qobayat in Akkar province which burned for hours and spread to nearby areas, civil defense said.
At the end of the day, the fire was still advancing towards the houses on the edge of the mountainous area. The Lebanese Red Cross said it evacuated 17 people and transported eight people to hospitals for emergency services. At least 25 residents were treated on site, the Red Cross said.
Lebanon’s interim Prime Minister Hassan Diab called for urgent help from neighboring Cyprus. A three-day bushfire there earlier this month was described as the most destructive blaze in the country’s 61-year history as an independent republic.
The Qobayat region is described by many as having one of the most beautiful forests in Lebanon, with oaks, pines and cedars.
Lebanese civil defense said the fire destroyed much of the forest. The state-owned National News Agency said the blaze had spread seven kilometers (four miles) and two kilometers (1.2 miles) in diameter, so far measuring dozens. thousands of pine trees.
A young man who was helping to fight the blaze was injured and died, civil defense said. ANI later said he was 15 years old. Firefighting vehicles have been dispatched from the capital, Beirut.
Lebanon suffered devastating forest fires in October 2019 that lasted more than two days and spread from the Chouf Mountains to the outskirts of the capital Beirut. Lack of equipment and preparation, combined with high temperatures and gusty winds, caused the blaze to rage and destroy acres of forest.
The government’s handling of the fires was one of the factors fueling nationwide protests later in the month, which were originally called due to the government’s arbitrary economic policies.