Algeria on high alert to avoid repeat of 2021 as forest fires rip through Morocco

Algeria on high alert to avoid repeat of 2021 as forest fires rip through Morocco
As temperatures rise and fires burn through large parts of northern Africa and southern Europe, Algeria is on high alert to avoid a repetition of last year's wildfire catastrophe which left nearly 100 dead.
2 min read
18 July, 2022
Moroccan firefighters have battled blazes for days across the country's north [Getty]

Algeria on Sunday said it was on high alert against possible forest fires, as blazes continue to consume large parts of neighbouring Morocco’s north.

"Given the climatic conditions characterised by high temperatures, which may facilitate the outbreak of forest fires, we are declaring a state of high alert," the Algerian agriculture ministry said in a statement.

Around 90 people died in August last year when dozens of wildfires ripped through large parts of Algeria’s north, especially in the Kabylia region. The wildfires were reportedly the largest the North African nation had ever seen.

While the government blamed arsonists and the blistering heatwave for the blazes, experts also criticised authorities for failing to prepare for the annual phenomenon.

The weekend announcement by the Algerian ministry came as Morocco – with which Algiers cut off ties last year – also struggles to extinguish its wildfires.

Head of the National Center for Climate Risks Index at the National Forest Agency Fouad el-Assali said 50 percent of the fires were under control.

He said over 4,600 hectares had burnt so far. Most of the flames are in the Larache province, where at least one person has died.

Morocco’s forests make up about 12 percent of its total area. The country has for years already suffered from drought.

A heatwave is engulfing North Africa and parts of Europe this week, with cities likely to see record-breaking temperatures on Monday and Tuesday.