Suleiman Inspects Fatri Fire that has Gotten Out of Control

A major fire, which erupted in the town of Fatri in the Jbeil region a week ago, has threatened to reach the houses in the area after having had destroyed 150,000 square meters of land, the head of the municipality Imad Daou told AFP on Sunday.

"Eighty percent of the land in the town has been destroyed. The entire town is on fire starting from the river and reaching the valley, and even the mountain. There aren't enough fire department teams to control the blaze," he told AFP in a phone call.

Fatri, a town of about 2250 residents, is located 45 kilometers north of Beirut and is mainly comprised of forests and agricultural areas.

Daou stated that fire trucks are standing by the houses that are under threat from the fire, adding that the teams combating the flames "are unable to control the blaze."

Over the past week, the firefighters struggled to completely douse the fire as it erupted again as soon as they managed to extinguish it.

Helicopters from the army and planes from the Civil Defense have taken part in extinguishing the flames, but to no avail.

Daou explained that the firefighting process is difficult "due to a lack of roads leading into the burning areas, the roughness of the terrain, and the lack of sufficient manpower and means."

He said that all sides are doing all they can, stressing that there are no shortcomings on their part, but just "modest means."

Furthermore, he warned that the wind may blow the fire to neighboring villages.

The blaze has claimed no lives so far but six Civil Defense personnel have suffered minor injuries while tackling it.

A civil defence official said the emergency services were having to combat "numerous fires" in different parts of the country fuelled by tinderbox conditions.

According to the meteorological service, Lebanon has recorded just 51.2 millimetres (two inches) of rain since September, compared with 214.8 millimetres in the same period of last year.

Lebanon's southern neighbour Israel, affected by the same extended summertime conditions and drought, has been battling a deadly forest fire since last Thursday.

Meanwhile, President Michel Suleiman stressed from Fatri on Sunday that a lack of planning is one of the main reasons that led to the exacerbation of the fire raging in the town.

He added that the political disputes are delaying achievements in Lebanon and causing the loss of the country's green spaces.

He explained that Lebanon is starting to lose its natural wealth, noting the failure to set up committees aimed at planning firefighting.(naharnet-AFP)

Source: Agence France Presse

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