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Conflict Incident Report

Firefighters, Army Helicopters Battling Raging Akkar Blaze

Date of incident: 
June 29, 2014
Death toll: 
Number of Injured: 
Actors/Parties Involved: 
Civil Defense
Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF)

Firefighters raced to control a blaze that raged through thick bushes of pine and oak in the northern district of Akkar, the state-run National News Agency reported on Sunday.

The blaze began on Saturday night doubled in size overnight and spread toward hill known as Areed Saba, which is between the two Akkar villages of Ayat and Dawra.

The hill, according to NNA, contains thick bushes.

However, Civil Defense crews later managed to contain the fire at the Areed Saba hill.

An army unit arrived to the area to assist Civil Defense teams that asked for backup and more fire trucks to extinguish the blaze, fearing it could spread to valleys that are hard to reach for the absence of roads.

Later on Sunday, NNA said the fire spread upwards toward the forests of Ayat and the peripheries of the Bakish neighborhood in the town, adding that the flames had encircled a Civil Defense vehicle and a number of firefighters, who were eventually rescued unharmed.

“Hot winds contributed to the rapid spread of the flames in this rugged area, in which blazes can only be doused by helicopters,” the agency added.

Firefighting efforts were bolstered by four army helicopters that were attempting to douse the flames.

Another fire truck headed to outskirts of the Akkar town of Baino to extinguish a blaze in the forest that is still on fire.

Another army helicopter arrived in the area around 4:30 pm to contribute to firefighting efforts.

“A huge plastic pool was set up in the town of Ayat to supply the helicopter with water,” NNA said.

“Civil Defense crews have managed to prevent the spread of flames towards homes but they have failed to protect the valleys given the absence of any land routes, the thing that necessitated the helicopter's participation to complete this mission,” the agency added.

In the evening, the blaze in Ayat started to abate due to the military helicopter's intervention, NNA said, noting that the extraction of water from artesian wells was not going in an easy manner due to the scarcity of rain this year.

The blaze came amid hot weather and strong winds blowing on Lebanon. Temperatures were as high as 31 degrees Celsius in the early morning.

It comes ahead of the hotter summer months when fires most frequently break out.


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