Lebanon — Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk Wednesday put procedures in place to better combat and respond to fires, days after locals complained about the inefficient response to a fire in a Baabda village.
Machnouk chaired a meeting with the general director of Civil Defense, Brig. Gen. Remon Khattar; a representative of the Lebanese Army, Brig. Gen. George Shidiak; the head of the Beirut Fire Department, Col. Munir Mkhallalati; and a representative from the Lebanese Red Cross, George Kettaneh.
Upon the request of the interior minister, the agencies held a meeting to discuss fires and to put a mechanism in place to prepare and be on alert to fight any fire that might erupt in Lebanon, Kettaneh told reporters after the meeting at the ministry. We will continue our meetings and a mechanism was put in place.
On Monday, a huge fire engulfed swathes of forest area in Baabda, raging for hours and threatening residential neighborhoods nearby.
The head of the Lebanese Environmentalist Movement, Paul Abi Rashed, estimated that the fire destroyed between 300,000 and 500,000 square meters of forest in Wadi Shahrur, including the Khandak al-Ruhban reserve.
Speaking to An-Nahar newspaper Wednesday, Abi Rashed said more than 80 percent of the reserve was destroyed.
Kettaneh said concerned agencies were working to limit the danger of forest fires in the summer season.
The interior minister is doing his best to find needed support and fix the helicopters that need maintenance, he said, adding that an investigation was ongoing to reveal the cause of the Baabda fire.