Director-General of Forests in Algeria Ali Mahmoudi announced that his country witnessed 37 forest fires this February and expressed his suspicions regarding the unusual occurrences of these fires in the middle of the winter season, describing them as "arson and criminal acts of vandalism".
During an interview with state radio on Thursday, Mahmoudi stated: "The high temperature during 5, 6 and 11 February coincided with the blowing of the warm Sirocco wind. We have witnessed forest fires started by persons with bad intentions who took advantage of the high temperature to set the green areas ablaze, like what happened in Sidi Bel Abbès, where we lost two hectares of Aleppo pines. It is regrettable to see fires during the month of February, in the middle of the winter season."
To counter frequent forest fires, especially in the summer and autumn seasons, the Algerian authorities are seeking to strengthen the resources of fire-fighting and civil protection teams with aerial forest surveillance drones and fire-extinguishing aircraft. In addition, the Forestry Department will be supplied with 15 trucks and 80 new vehicles manufactured in the army factory in the Tiaret governorate.
The fires ravaged large areas in the governorates of Jijel and Bejaia, north-east of the country, and Sidi Bel Abbès in the north-west.