In Algeria, fires cause 15 dead and 26 injured

Algeria is plagued by numerous fires in this summer season. Fifteen people died and 26 others were injured overnight from Sunday to Monday in forest fires that affected three departments in the north of the country, the Interior Ministry announced on Monday.

In total, the country recorded 97 fires in 16 wilayas (prefectures) but the most violent broke out in Béjaïa, Bouira and Jijel killing 15, the ministry said in a statement. These fires, fanned by very strong winds, reached residential areas in these three prefectures where 1,500 people threatened by the flames were evacuated, according to this source.

Heat and dryness

In addition, Algeria is facing an intense heat wave in part of these regions, with temperature peaks of 48 degrees expected on Monday. Some 7,500 agents and 350 trucks, all capacities combined, were mobilized on the ground, supported by aerial firefighting means, which made it possible to overcome most of these fires, according to the press release.

But “extinguishing operations are continuing in six wilayas: Boumerdes, Bouira, Tizi Ouzou, Bejaïa, Jijel and Skikda, with the mobilization of 13 mobile columns and 3,050 agents, who were supported on Monday morning by 12 mobile columns and 1,200 additional agents,” the ministry said. Twelve aerial fire-fighting devices are still deployed in these six wilayas, including army air force fire-fighting helicopters, including a “high-capacity fire-fighting aircraft”, according to the statement.

Forest fire season

The Ministry of the Interior called on citizens to “avoid the areas affected by the fires and to use the toll-free numbers made available to them for any report”, ensuring that “the Civil Protection services remained mobilized until the total extinction of the fires”. Every summer, the north and east of Algeria are affected by forest fires, a phenomenon which is accentuated from year to year under the effect of climate change, leading to droughts and heat waves.

In August 2022, gigantic fires killed 37 people in the region of El Tarf, in the northeast of the country. The summer of 2021 had been the deadliest in decades: more than 90 people had then perished in forest fires that devastated the north, in particular Kabylia.

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