(Algiers) About fifty fires “of criminal origin” and fueled by a heat wave started on Monday evening in northern Algeria, particularly in Kabylia, killing seven people, said the interior minister.
Posted on Aug 10, 2021 at 7:39 am
“Unfortunately, we regret seven deaths. Six in the region (Tizi Ouzou) and one in Sétif ”in the north, said Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud on television, who, accompanied by a ministerial delegation, went to Tizi Ouzou, one of the most populous cities in Kabylia.
Disaster relief teams try to put out 31 fires in 14 Wilayas (prefecture) in the north of the country. Ten are out and about in Tizi Ouzou. Four more broke out in Jijel (east).
The cities of Bouira, Sétif, Khenchela, Guelma, Bejaïa, Bordj Bou Arreridj, Boumerdès, Tiaret, Medea, Tébessa, Blida and Skikda are also affected by fires, the Directorate-General for Civil Protection announced on Twitter.
“Fifty shots at the same time, that’s impossible. These fires are of criminal origin, ”said Mr Beldjoud.
The Algerian public broadcaster announced on Tuesday the arrest of three “arsonists” in Médéa (north), where a fire also broke out.
Winds are spreading the fires and making the rescuers’ work more difficult, said Youcef Ould Mohamed, the local forest keeper, quoted by the Algerian press agency APS.
These fires occur while Algeria is experiencing a scorching summer marked by water shortages in the country. Weather services predict temperatures of up to 46 degrees for Tuesday.
Impressive pictures of the fires are circulating on social networks.
During a Council of Ministers on July 25, President Abdelamdjid Tebboune ordered the drafting of a law that would punish those responsible for arson in forests with up to 30 years in prison or even life if the fire kills individuals.
In early July, three people suspected of being involved in fires that devastated 1,500 hectares of forest in the Aurès massif (northeast Algeria) were arrested.
Algeria, the largest country in Africa, has only 4.1 million hectares of forest with a meager afforestation rate of 1.76%.
Forest fires hit the country every year. In 2020, almost 44,000 hectares of coppice forest went up in smoke. The authorities had announced that they had arrested several arsonists.
The increasing fires around the world are associated with various phenomena expected by scientists due to global warming.
The rise in temperature, the increase in heat waves and the decrease in precipitation in places are an ideal combination for the start of fires.