Tunisian civil defence scrambles to put out massive fire threatening capital’s southern suburbs
Tunisian civil defence forces on Wednesday morning were combatting a massive fire which broke out on the Jebel Boukernine mountain south of Tunis the previous day amid a searing heatwave.
The civil defence forces used helicopters to try to put out the fire, while residents of some of the Tunisian capital’s southern suburbs were evacuated.
Jebel Boukernine looks over major suburbs of Tunis including Ezzahra, Hammam-Lif, Borj Cedria, and Bou Mhel. The forests on the mountain were still ablaze on Wednesday.
Moez Treiah, a spokesman for the Tunisian Civil Defence, said that while helicopters were being used to put out the fires on the mountains, fire trucks were on standby in the suburbs to stop the fires spreading to residential areas.
He told The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the helicopters were being used because it was impossible to reach the fires on top of the mountain with ground vehicles, adding that the first priority was to protect residents of suburbs near Jebel Boukernine.
Explosions were heard in the suburbs, and Treiah said that these could have been due to canisters or ammunition dating back to the Second World War exploding as a result of the fire, adding that no casualties or material damage had resulted.
#Tunisia: Tuesday's fire in Djebel #Boukornine has been contained in several areas from the northern part to #HammamChott & firefighters backed by water bombers of the National Army are still working to contain fires at mountain's heights near #BorjCedria. https://t.co/r068m1mkGy pic.twitter.com/rirVNRra6C— TAP news agency (@TapNewsAgency) July 20, 2022
He said that it was possible that the fires would be put out by the end of Wednesday but that that depended on weather conditions, saying that the wind was making it more difficult to put out the fires.
Assistance has arrived from neighbouring Algeria, which sent planes and dozens of fire trucks, according to a statement from the Algerian presidency.
In June 1998, a massive fire broke out on Jebel Boukernine, taking several days to put out.