People check a charred car near a forest fire in Betshai, Monday, May 5, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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Efforts to fight a massive fire that engulfed swathes of forest area in the Baabda region Monday were called into question by locals who complained the response was slow and inefficient.Many residents said that Monday's fire was the biggest they've seen in years.One resident, a U.N. worker unauthorized to speak to the media, said the fire had started on the far side of a valley and took only moments to travel between 500 and 600 meters due to strong winds.Earlier that day, a unit of about 30 Army engineers, equipped with tree branches, axes and shovels, descended into the valley to contain the blazing fire.The unit traveled a narrow rocky path that cut through the forest in order to subdue the fire before it could spread to the residential buildings that lay uphill.The soldiers swatted the fire down with the shovels and tree branches, beating it back up the hill.Each time the soldiers would put down the fire, the wind would reignite it a few meters away.More reinforcements arrived as the soldiers began attacking the fire from multiple fronts.
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