Wildfires that killed at least 34 in Algeria are now 80% extinguished, officials say


(LONDON) — Wildfires that have killed at least 34 people in northern Algeria over the past several days are now almost entirely under control, officials said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 80% of the wildfires had been extinguished, according to the Algerian Ministry of the Interior, which in a statement credited the “positive results” to the uninterrupted mobilization of firefighters overnight, the use of firefighting aircraft and a drop in both wind speed and air temperature.

Firefighting operations are continuing, with 13 hotspots remaining across seven provinces. The areas where blazes have been put out are being monitored, the interior ministry said.

Local authorities in the areas where the wildfires are contained have begun to inspect the damage and count the number of people affected, according to the interior ministry.

The flames ignited Sunday and rapidly spread across forests and agricultural areas in at least 16 of Algeria’s 48 provinces, driven by strong winds and scorching heat. The hardest-hit areas were in the coastal provinces of Bejaia, Bouira and Jijel, east of the capital Algiers. At least 1,500 people were evacuated, the interior ministry said.

Some 8,000 firefighters and 529 trucks were deployed to battle the raging blazes alongside military firefighting aircraft. Among those killed were 10 soldiers who were fighting the flames in Bejaia, according to the interior ministry.

Two people suspected of starting the wildfires in Bejaia were arrested on Monday, according to the provincial attorney general’s office.

Temperatures are forecast to reach as high as 50 degrees Celsius, or 122 degrees Fahrenheit, in the southern part of the North African nation on Thursday and Friday, according to the Algerian National Office of Meteorology.

Algeria is susceptible to wildfires in the summertime. Last August, at least 43 people were killed and 200 others were injured by blazes that burned through forest and urban areas in the eastern part of the country, according to the Algerian Red Crescent.

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