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After days of battle, northern Tunisia forest fires almost under control: Official

July 28, 2022 at 6:47 pm

Firefighters try to control a wildfire in Tunis, Tunisia on 19 July 2022 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

Forest fires raging for days in northern Tunisia are now “90 per cent under control,” an official said on Thursday, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Blazes have been spreading in forests in Bargou, located around 110 kilometres (68 miles) south of the capital, Tunis, for some five days.

“The wildfires erupted on Sunday and grew in intensity over the past few days due to high temperatures and winds,” said Mohamed Ali Ben Behi, Regional Director of Civil Protection Services for Siliana province.

He said authorities have been able to rein in fires threatening homes near the forests, with reinforcements, including from the military, called in for support.

The Tunisian government said on Wednesday that 118 fires have destroyed some 2,950 hectares (7,290 acres) across the country since 1 June.

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This marked a worrying rise from 88 blazes that consumed around 680 hectares (1,680 acres) in the same period last year, according to Moez Triaa, a civil defence spokesman.

The official said seven forest fires broke out in five different provinces in just the past week.

For weeks, several countries in the Mediterranean basin have been battling wildfires amid an unprecedented wave of intense heat.

The EU’s Copernicus Earth Observation Program on Thursday warned of “very extreme danger” of more fires in several areas of Tunisia, Spain, France, Italy, Morocco and Algeria.