BEIRUT: Civil Defense fire brigades, assisted by municipality workers and residents, are struggling to extinguish a fire that broke out in the vicinity of millennia-old cedar trees in Maaser al-Chouf, southeast of Beirut, Thursday.
According to a Civil Defense spokesperson, the fire started in a pine forest between Maaser al-Chouf and the adjacent village of Botmeh, spreading quickly toward the cedar reserve higher up.
“The fire is big. Teams from Civil Defense backed by four vehicles are working on extinguishing the fire. They are being assisted by the municipalities and the villagers. All are struggling to keep the fire away from the cedar trees,” the spokesperson told The Daily Star.
“We hope to be able to put out the fire in two hours as we expect the wind to blow in our favor,” he said. “We definitely would die before letting it reach the cedar reserve."
The largest of Lebanon's natural reserves, Al-Chouf Cedar Nature Reserve stretches over 550 square kilometers. The reserve's most famous attractions are its three magnificent cedar forests at Maaser Al-Chouf, Barouk and Ain Zahalta
The natural cedar reserve forests date back to the third millennium BC.
In modern day Lebanon, the legendary cedar is the country’s national emblem, featured on the national flag, the national airline, government logos and the Lebanese currency.