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Struggle to contain wildfire in north Lebanon

Lebanese firefighters are struggling for the second day to contain wildfires in the country's north that have spread across the border into Syria, civil defense officials in both countries said Thursday.

The fires killed at least one person, a 15-year-old boy, who was helping firefighting efforts in Lebanon.  

Lebanon's civil defense said it deployed 25 fire trucks, supported by four air force helicopters and military units, to put out the blaze.

But the fires continued to rage, spreading east, and have already affected large swathes of forest in the mountainous north.

Residents posted videos and images of scorched forests, blackened trees and fires on mountaintops, as the blaze closes in on the village of Qobayat.

There was no official estimate yet of the area affected.

Omar Masoud, the mayor of Andaqt, called the fires near Andaqt and Qobayat "man-made".

The cause of the fires has not been officially established.

Lebanon's Red Cross said late Wednesday it evacuated 17 people and treated more than 30, including eight who have been hospitalized.

The fire began Wednesday in the northern Akkar province and has since spread across into border areas of Syria's Homs province.

Lebanon's state-owned National News Agency said late Wednesday the fire spread over seven kilometers (four miles) and was two kilometers (1.2 miles) wide, claiming tens of thousands of pine trees so far.

Lebanon's government has called for urgent assistance from neighboring Cyprus, which recently fought for three days to put out one of its worst brush fires in decades.

Lebanon suffered devastating wildfires in October 2019 that lasted for more than two days and spread from the mountains in the Chouf area to just outside the capital Beirut.

AP

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