Author Topic: Algeria's desperate wildfire fight: Buckets and branches  (Read 56 times)


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Algeria's desperate wildfire fight: Buckets and branches
« on: August 23, 2021, 05:48:32 AM »
Algeria's desperate wildfire fight: Buckets and branches

The once verdant mountains of the Algerian region of Tizi Ouzou, peppered with olive groves and coniferous trees, were ravaged by more than 100 forest fires over the past fortnight.

The heat could be felt from dozens of kilometres away.

At a petrol service station in the province of Bouira, a man working the pump laboured with the suffocating atmosphere.

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"[The heat] is coming from over the mountain. I've never seen fires like this," he said, squinting into the distance.

Forest fires are not a new phenomenon for Algeria, and the north-eastern region of Tizi Ouzou in particular.

On the contrary, they are regular occurrences that first responders tussle with almost every year.

Yet, in the midst of a heatwave, no rain, and unrelenting gusts of wind, this year's blazes caused extensive damage.

Tens of thousands of hectares around the villages of Larbaâ Nath Irathen, Beni Douala and Aït Mesbah were completely engulfed in flames, leaving charred silhouettes of the evergreen trees that used to line the hills.

Early reports conclude that this year's fires inflicted more damage to Algeria's forests than all the fires from 2008 to 2020 combined.

At least 90 people died fighting the flames, including 33 military personnel who received honourable funeral processions - figures far higher than ever seen before.

Despite fighting fires year after year, and boasting one of Africa's biggest military budgets, Algeria does not have amphibious firefighting airplanes.