Fires brought under control in Syria, Lebanon

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on October 10, 2020 shows a fire devouring a forest in Syria’s Latakia province the previous day. (Photo by – / SANA / AFP)

DAMASCUS, Syria (AFP) — Dozens of fires that ravaged parts of Syria and Lebanon in recent days were brought under control on Sunday, authorities in the two countries said.

In Syria, blazes fuelled by high temperatures broke out Friday in the provinces of Homs, Tartus and Latakia, where at least three people died, according to the health ministry.

Several families had to flee residential areas near the fires, according to media reports.

Syrian Agriculture Minister Mohammed Hassan Qatana said “a total of 156 fires” had broken out, most of them in Latakia and Tartus in the west of the country, state news agency SANA reported.

He said they were brought under control on Sunday.

SANA reported that firefighters and civil defence personnel backed by army helicopters were still active in the areas.

Latakia governor Ibrahim Khader al-Salem, quoted by SANA, said that “civil defence teams, supported by army units and the population, are now in control of all the fires in the province”.

Syrian Prime Minister Hussein Arnous said recovery work was underway, along with efforts to support those who had been forced to flee their homes.

An aerial picture shows flames engulfing trees as a forest fire rages in Lebanon’s Ras El Metn area, on October 10, 2020. (Photo by – / AFP)

In neighbouring Lebanon, more than 100 forest fires that had raged since Thursday were also completely under control, a civil defence source told AFP.

Authorities have yet to reveal the full extent of the damage from the fires in both countries.

But SANA published pictures showing burnt trees, including olives that had been ready for harvest.

Lebanon’s official National News Agency said swathes of forests were devastated and pine trees destroyed.

A girl watches smoke rising from a fire near the northern Israeli kibbutz of Misgav Am in the Upper Galilee on October 9,2020. – Several fires spread across northern and central Israel and the occupied West Bank as temperatures soared, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people, authorities said (Photo by JALAA MAREY / AFP)

In Israel, fires fuelled by the heatwave were brought under control overnight Friday-Saturday, the firefighting service said.

“After more than 30 hours of firefighting, we have brought the main fires under control… (but) we remain vigilant,” the fire service there said in a statement on Saturday.

© Agence France-Presse