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Raging Fires have Engulfed Towns in Lebanon Causing People to Evacuate Homes

Raging wildfires have been destroying over thousands of square meters of forests in Lebanon. The fires started Monday night when they grew out of control and have since engulfed homes in several towns and villages in the country. Lebanese Red Cross tweets that four casualties had to be transferred to hospitals in the area.

Extreme heat and dry conditions reportedly caused the unprecedented fire and while firefighters were able to control it at first, the strong winds rekindled it. The fire extended to the Shouf mountain and towns of Mechref, Debbieh, Baawarta, Damour, Naameh, and people were made to evacuate their homes overnight. According to the Lebanese civil defense, more than 100 firefighters from 20 civil defense stations are working with the Lebanese army to battle the fires.

Civil Defense Director General Raymond Khattar said in remarks to LBCI TV station: “For tens of years Lebanon has not witnessed anything similar.”

“Around 200 civil defense fire fighting vehicles have deployed in a bid to extinguish more than 103 fires blazing in different Lebanese areas,” he added.

Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan on Tuesday announced that two jets from Cyprus have arrived to help Lebanese firefighters in controlling the fires. The Twitter account for the Cypriot foreign ministry confirmed the announcement as it posted, “Two fixed-wing fire fighting aircraft of the Cyprus Department of Forests now en route to Lebanon responding to urgent request for assistance in combating raging forest fires. We stand in solidarity with friends & neighbours in times of difficulty. Together we are stronger.”

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that if the fires turn out to be intentional those behind it “will pay a price,” The Washington Post reports. Celebrities from the country have also taken to social media to raise awareness of the situation. Lebanese singer and actor Cyrine Abdelnour shared a video of the fire with her 7.8 million Instagram followers along with the message, “I ask from all my heart, please God let the heavens water and put this evil fire out. Please God, help all the families and kids. We have no one but you.” Singer and actor Nicole Saba shared a photo of the fire on Instagram, captioning it with, “My heart burns when looking at this. May God protect Lebanon and it’s people. It’s a huge fire and an environmental disaster.”

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