Once again, Algeria battles wildfires as new heatwave strikes region
Algeria is again battling against the eruption of wildfires as a new heatwave hits the North African region.
Over the weekend, a series of fires erupted in the eastern forests of Bejaia, Annaba and El Tarf, extending to the border of Tunisia's Jendouba region.
Local reports said firefighting teams and helicopters have been trying since Sunday, 27 August, to control fires, which broke out in the high mountains of the eastern region known for its dense forests, namely the Boughantas forest.
Witnesses said blowing winds compounded the troubles of the rescue teams as the fires travelled speedily, threatening nearby villages after destroying dozens of hectares of forest and crops. However, officials said no fatalities were recorded.
"It was impossible even to open your eyes due to the wind. (...) thank god no one was hurt, but may god be with people who lost their homes," Ahmed, a resident participating in the rescue operations in the Shabiya neighbourhood at the Aanaba state, told The New Arab.
Videos on social media platforms showed charred remains of cars and houses on fire.
The temperature peaked at 32 degrees Celsius on Sunday, a respite in the heatwave that helped avoid more blazes.
Over the weekend, Algeria's Minister of the Interior, Ibrahim Murad, fled to the state of Bejaia to inspect the damages as he promised affected residents compensation for their losses. The government has yet to announce further details on the promised compensation.
This is the second time Bejaia state has grappled with the raging blazes this year.
Last month, blazes across Bejaia and the mountain forests of the Kabylia region on the Mediterranean coast killed 34 and injured over 80 people, 25 of them military personnel, destroyed homes and coastal resorts, and turned vast forest areas into blackened wastelands.
At the time, the affected residents blamed "the government's lack of efforts and planning" for the disaster.
Local reports said the Algerian authorities were more prepared, this time, to face the wildfires as a helipad was built near a dam located in the area to help facilitate the intervention of helicopters for the firefighting operations.
The Forestry Directorate of the state of Annaba has launched an investigation into the recent wildfires, claiming that "the fire was fabricated and falls within the framework of a criminal act."
A similar investigation was also opened on the July wildfires.
In 2021, Algeria blamed devastating wildfires on two terrorist organisations, claiming Morocco and Israel were involved. Later, Algeris decided to cut off relations with Rabat because of "its hostile acts."
Scientists rank the Mediterranean region as a climate-change "hot spot", with the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning of more heatwaves, crop failures, droughts, rising seas and influxes of invasive species.