Forest fires contained in Morocco: authorities

Forest fires contained in Morocco: authorities

A villager rides a donkey as a cloud of smoke from a forest fire rises near Ksar el-Kebir in the Larache region, on July 15, 2022
A villager rides a donkey as a cloud of smoke from a forest fire rises near Ksar el-Kebir in the Larache region, on July 15, 2022. Photo: FADEL SENNA / AFP
Source: AFP

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Devastating forest fires that broke out last week in forested areas of northern Morocco have been contained, authorities said Monday.

One of the last fires, which destroyed some 500 hectares (1,200 acres) -- half of it forested -- was tamed on Monday in Tetouan province, local authorities said.

Firefighting teams had earlier brought blazes elsewhere under control, notably in Larache, the worst-affected province, where one person was killed.

Up to Sunday, fires had burned across 6,600 hectares, according to the national forests agency.

Twenty villages, some in remote areas, had been evacuated.

But with temperatures expected to reach between 41 and 46 degrees Celsius (around 105-114 degrees Fahrenheit) during the remainder of this week, according to the national meteorological office, there could be more to come.

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Said Chakri, an environmentalist quoted by national news agency MAP, said that "the reality of climate change" contributed to the devastation.

A Turbo Thrush plane dispatched to douse the flames in Tetouan was forced to make an emergency landing on Sunday, without injury to the pilot.

A total of eight Turbo Thrush planes were deployed, alongside five Canadair planes, and some 2,000 personnel, including the civil defence, the gendarmerie and the army, were mobilised.

Surveillance drones were also deployed for the first time, in order to spot fires.

Morocco, experiencing severe drought, has been hit by heatwaves over the past month.

On the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar, fires have also raged in southern Europe, from Spain and Portugal to Greece and France, where temperature records were broken on Monday.

Last year, a total of 2,782 hectares of Moroccan forest were destroyed by 285 fires that broke out between January and September, notably in the mountainous Rif region.

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Source: AFP

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