'Animals, fields, houses, everything is ravaged': Forest fires rage in Kabylia, Algeria
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Some 30 forest fires broke out in the Kabylia region of northern Algeria on the evening of August 9, killing at least six people. Eyewitnesses have documented the region's distress as it deals with these devastating fires exacerbated by scorching temperatures and drought.
On the morning of August 10, 31 fires were in progress in 14 departments of Kabylia, in northern Algeria. Ten fires were recorded in Tizi Ouzou, four in Jijel and four others in Sétif and Béjaïa, according to the Algerian Civil Defence. Other towns were also heavily affected by the fires, which spread through surrounding forests and fields.
As of August 11, more than 50 fires had broken out in the country. At least 65 people have died as the fires have continued, including 28 soldiers who were deployed to fight the flames.
The fires have been spreading rapidly due to strong winds, complicating the job of firefighters, the Algerian Press Agency said.
Eyewitness images as an SOS
Amateur videos taken by eyewitnesses the evening of August 9 documented the spread of the flames, which engulfed fields and entire houses, a resident of Larbaa Nath Irathen, in Tizi Ouzou, told the FRANCE 24 Observers team. "The residents are no longer able to fight the fire, several other villages of the region are mobilising [to help them]," she said.
Authorities dispatched two fire-fighting helicopters as well as mobile rescue units from neighbouring departments as reinforcements on August 10.
The Interior Minister claimed that the fires were set by arsonists, in a speech on state television. Three people suspected of starting a fire in the department of Medea were arrested on Tuesday morning.