BEIRUT: Wildfires spread to new areas in Akkar Sunday, burning a dense forest in north Lebanon after a scorching weekend across the country.
Fires that erupted Saturday night in the Akkar villages of Ayyat, Al-Dawra and Beino expanded Sunday to reach the Arid Saba hill, a dense forest of pine and oak trees, the National News Agency reported.
Army troops joined Civil Defense firefighting teams to put out the fire in Arid Saba, which is located between Ayyat and Al-Dawra. More fire engines were called on to battle the new fire.
Firefighters continued their work in Beino, where the brush fire was still burning, according to the NNA.
The fires come during an extremely hot weekend in Lebanon, where according to an expert’s predictions, “anywhere at 2,000 meters [altitude] or below in Mount Lebanon is at high risk.”
Temperature ranged from 20 to 36 degrees Saturday, according to the Meteorological Department at Rafik Hariri International Airport. Sunday’s temperatures are expected to remain similarly high, with Beirut reaching a maximum of 34 degrees.
Joseph Beshara, the wildfire management program coordinator for the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative, told The Daily Star Saturday that municipalities and Civil Defense and Lebanese citizens needed to be prepared because wildfires could emerge at any time.
“If fires are identified within the first 20 minutes, they will not spread wildly, but after the first 20 minutes, it is very hard to control it,” he said. “Some areas are more than 20 minutes away from the Civil Defense."
Beshara said fires were spreading more than in the past because many wooded areas were now abandoned.