Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Sunday ordered the " immediate " opening of an investigation into fires which have increased in recent months across the country, devastating several thousand hectares. The investigation aims in particular to " determine the causes of the fires which have devastated vast areas of forests ". The fires also destroyed homes according to local media, but authorities are not reporting the damage.
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The General Directorate of Forests (DGF) said it had recorded 1,216 fires between June 1 and August 1, which destroyed more than 8,778 hectares in 37 regions, according to a report communicated to the APS agency on Sunday.
On Thursday, the Prime Minister, Abdelaziz Djerad, set up a watch cell to monitor the development of forest fires as well as the effectiveness of prevention and control systems.
A peak of 66 simultaneous fires was reached on July 27 in 20 wilayas (prefectures), requiring the intervention of Civil Protection helicopters to extinguish them, according to the DGF.
Mr. Djerad said on Sunday that several of the fires were of arson.
" Some people involved in these fires have been arrested and their confessions will soon be broadcast, " the prime minister said, according to Algerian television. He denounced acts aimed, according to him, at destabilizing the country.
Algeria faces recurrent forest fires which annually destroy 1% of the country's plant cover. Investigations were launched in 2019 to determine the causes but the results were not communicated.
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An official of the DGF quoted by the APS agency, revealed that an investigation of forest fires in Algeria between 1985 and 2018 shows that 66,673 fires devastated 1.073 million hectares of forest cover. According to a study published in the journal Méditerranée, the scarcity of forests and the threats of desertification make the consequences of repeated forest fires in Algeria particularly disastrous.