Firefighters grapple to extinguish the flames of a fire that erupted in a wood factory in the Beirut northern suburb of Bauchrieh in February. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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It has been one week since the Karout Grand Stores warehouse in Hadath burned down, yet an acrid smell still hangs in the air, even several meters from the site.The Karout fire was one of a recent spate of blazes across Lebanon that has drawn attention to the country's capacity, or lack thereof, to prevent future conflagrations and promote fire safety.One month before that, two firefighters died fighting a blaze in a Mar Elias printing shop, located in the basement of a 12-story residential building.An anonymous source at the Civil Defense told The Daily Star that fires are occurring at an average pace, with only 5 percent fewer blazes in 2015 than last year.The private sector can also encourage building owners to take precautions.Lebanon's building code, most recently amended in 2004, requires new construction safeguards against fires, earthquakes and collapse risks.Karout's insurers had inspected his warehouse one month before the fire.Lebanon's haphazard urban development has also introduced a more general fire hazard: There is no law requiring warehouses or factories, which are prone to conflagration, to be far from residences.Everyone should also know that number to dial in case of a fire, to alert Civil Defense, is 125 .
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