Beirut: The emergency team took control of a large flame in Lebanon’s largest pine forest on Wednesday, officials said the country could be intentional as it prepared for the next summer fire. A fire broke out in the northern region of Dinier on Tuesday night, and military and volunteer firefighters scrambled to save one of the greenest pine forests in the Middle East.

Wednesday’s army said it had dispatched a helicopter and dropped the water into flames in a huge bucket. “Unfortunately, the wildfire season is about to begin,” said Environment Minister Nacelle Yasin. After working for hours in difficult situations, the fire was “put under control,” Yasin told AFP. “The affected area is under surveillance to avoid new fires,” said Yasin, who visited the area on Wednesday, “may have been intentionally ignited.”

Hamad Hamdane, a member of civil defense, said the team has confirmed that the smoldering embers have been extinguished. “We walk in the woods … to make sure the fire is in full control,” Hamdane said. Lebanon is tackling the worst financial crisis in history and lacks the tools and capabilities to combat the increasing catastrophic wildfires of recent years, partly due to rising temperatures due to climate change.

Corruption-stricken Mediterranean countries have repeatedly needed foreign assistance to respond to disasters. Government shortcomings have offended environmental activists who warn of the damage done to the country’s ever-shrinking natural treasures. Local officials said there has been an increase in illegal logging in forests in recent years.

“Forgive those who God did not appoint the State Forestry Corps, those who left the forest area without firefighting equipment, and those who neglected to develop and support civil defense,” said environmental activist Paul Abi Reichd. I wrote in the media. Last July, it took Lebanon days to extinguish a wildfire that devastated northern pine forests, killed a 15-year-old volunteer firefighter, and expelled many from their homes.

In 2019, the government’s failure to contain a devastating wildfire was one of the triggers of an unprecedented national protest against public incompetence and perceptions of corruption. Scientists warn that extreme weather events and severe fires will become more common due to anthropogenic global warming. – AFP

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