Volunteers tend to a man who as they help firefighters to extinguish a forest fire in the Qubayyat area of northern Lebanon's remote Akkar region on July 29, 2021. A Lebanese teenager was killed as he joined volunteers battling devastating forest wildfires in northern Lebanon, where firefighters were struggling to protect homes from the blaze. Image Credit: AFP

Beirut: Lebanon battled rapidly spreading wildfires for a third straight day Friday after they destroyed pine forests and threatened homes in northern areas.

The blaze that started on Wednesday in Lebanon’s remote Akkar region “is spreading quickly over large areas,” Agriculture Minister Abbas Mortada told AFP.

A firefighter battles with fire during a massive wildfire which engulfed a Mediterranean resort region on Turkey's southern coast near the town of Manavgat, on July 29, 2021.
Turkey death toll rises to 4
The death toll from wildfires on Turkey’s southern coast has risen to four and firefighters were battling blazes for a third day on Friday after the evacuation of dozens of villages and some hotels.
More than 70 wildfires have broken out this week in provinces on Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean coasts as well as inland areas, President Tayyip Erdogan said, adding that 14 were still burning.
Planes from Russia and Ukraine helped battle the flames and another from Azerbaijan was joining them. “As of midday, with the arrival of the planes, we are turning in a positive direction,” Erdogan told reporters after Friday prayers.
Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said fires raged on in six provinces and officials promised to bring to account anyone found responsible for starting them.
Villages and some hotels have been evacuated in tourist areas and television footage has shown people fleeing across fields as fires closed in on their homes.
Pakdemirli said fires were still blazing in the Mediterranean resort region of Antalya and the Aegean resort province of Mugla.
“We were hoping to contain some of the fires as of this morning but while we say cautiously that they are improving, we still cannot say they are under control,” he said.

“It’s spreading in all directions” fanned by high winds, Mortada said, adding that it had reached neighbouring Syria.

The blaze, which has killed a 15-year-old volunteer firefighter and forced many people from their homes, gained pace overnight, according to the state-run National News Agency.

“The fires were out of control in the Jabal Akroum” region which straddles the border, NNA said.

“The area affected by the fire expanded significantly overnight... approaching orchards, farmland and some homes evacuated by their residents,” it said.

There is no official estimate of the size of the area affected.

The army deployed two helicopters early Friday to help douse the flames and more local volunteers joined the firefighting effort, NNA said.

The Red Cross treated one volunteer with breathing difficulties, it added.

George Abou Moussa of Lebanon’s civil defence said firefighting teams were working to contain the blaze.

“But there are areas we can’t reach,” he told AFP.

According to Mortada, the cash-strapped government is looking for outside help.

“The Lebanese government doesn’t have access to many firefighting aircraft,” and is pinning its hopes on assistance from Cyprus, Greece and neighbouring Syria, Mortada said.

For it’s part, Syria said that it has managed to contain fires spreading from Lebanese territory.

“The fire that spread from Lebanese territory to the... Qusayr region has been completely extinguished,” the state SANA news agency reported, citing the director of Syria’s civil defence.

The government’s failure to contain devastating wildfires in October 2019 was one of the triggers of an unprecedented, nationwide protest movement against perceived official incompetence and corruption.