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Wildfires in Algeria kill 42, including two dozen soldiers


Devastating wildfires ripping through Algeria killed 42 people Tuesday, including 25 soldiers working to put out the flames.

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Starting Monday in the Kabylie region, east of the capital, the fires grew in number, and the army was deployed to both battle blazes and help evacuate residential areas.

With homes burning around them, families rushed to escape through blinding smoke. Some residents in desperation tried to extinguish nearby fires by smothering them with tree branches and spraying water on them, armed only with plastic buckets. The flames continued to spread.

"We had a horror night. My house is completely burnt," Mohamed Kaci, who fled alongside his family to a hotel from the village of Azazga, told Reuters.

Tuesday's fatal wildfires add Algeria to a growing list of countries marred by destructive blazes this summer: Recently, parts of Lebanon, Russia, Greece and Turkey have gone up in flames. The Western United States and Canada have also been plagued by wildfires.

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune offered his condolences to the families of the soldiers on Twitter: "We bow in reverence before the souls of the righteous sons of the nation."

"It is with great sadness that I have learned of the martyrdom of 25 soldiers after they were successful in rescuing around 100 citizens from the flames in the mountains of Bejaia and Tizi Ouzou," the president wrote.

Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud accused arsonists of the fire outbreak, though he did not provide more details on the allegation.

"Only criminal hands can be behind the simultaneous outbreak of about 50 fires across several localities," he said, according to Reuters.

He also vowed to compensate people affected by the fires.

Published : August 12, 2021

By : The Washington Post · Sammy Westfall