Forest fires ravage Kabylia, Algeria

Some 30 forest fires broke out in the Kabylia region of northern Algeria on the night of August 9, killing at least six people. Eyewitnesses have documented the region’s anguish as it grapples with these devastating fires exacerbated by scorching temperatures and drought.

As of the morning of August 10, 31 fires were breaking out in 14 departments of Kabylia, in northern Algeria. Ten fires were registered in Tizi Ouzou, four in Jijel and another four in Sétif and Béjaïa, according to the Algerian Civil Defense. Other cities were also hit hard by the fires, which spread to the surrounding forests and fields.

As of August 11, there had been more than 50 fires in the country. At least 65 people have died as the fires continue, including 28 soldiers who were deployed to fight the flames.

The fires have spread rapidly due to strong winds, complicating the job of firefighters, the Algerian Press Agency said.

Eyewitness images such as SOS

Amateur videos taken by eyewitnesses on the night of August 9 documented the spread of the flames, engulfing entire fields and houses, Larbaa resident Nath Irathen, in Tizi Ouzou, told the JowharObservers team. “Residents can no longer fight the fire, several other towns in the region are mobilizing [to help them],” she said.

Authorities dispatched two fire fighting helicopters and mobile rescue units from neighboring departments as reinforcements on August 10.

The Interior Minister claimed that the fires were set by arsonists, in a speech on state television. Three people suspected of starting a fire in the Medea apartment were arrested Tuesday morning.

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