Security

White Helmets contain fires in Idlib province

By Waleed Abu al-Khair in Cairo

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White Helmets firefighters battle to extinguish a fire west of Idlib. [Photo courtesy of Syrian Civil Defence]

White Helmets teams have succeeded in containing a conflagration that spread to the west of the city of Idlib from regime-controlled areas, where the fires are still burning, a member of the Syrian Civil Defence group said.

The White Helmets worked continuously for five days, including at night, to prevent the blaze from reaching residential areas, White Helmets member Khaled al-Khatib told Diyaruna.

So far, they have been able to contain more than 90% of the fires that spread across an area of ​​about four square kilometres west of the city of Idlib, he said.

The fires spread into Idlib from Syrian regime-held areas in Jabal al-Akrad, north of Latakia, al-Khatib said.

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Members of the White Helmets rest after battling to contain a fire west of Idlib. [Photo courtesy of Syrian Civil Defence]

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A member of the White Helmets who fainted due to smoke inhalation is taken for treatment. [Photo courtesy of Syrian Civil Defence]

Summer fires are common in Syria, but residents have said this year's are worse than usual, with fires raging in the hilly woodlands of Latakia and Hama provinces for several weeks, AFP reported.

The firefighting effort in Idlib has been under way for five days, and White Helmets teams are still in the area to ensure the fires are completely extinguished and do not spread to residential areas in Idlib, al-Khatib said.

"The teams are on full alert and are deployed in all the areas around the fire," he said, "and are clearing vegetation to create a fire-break in forested areas to keep the blaze from spreading in the event it reignites."

They also have been dousing the areas where the fire has been extinguished with water to keep it from reigniting.

Al-Khatib said there have been no civilian casualties as the fires burned in forested patches away from residential areas, but reported that more than 10 members of the White Helmets had suffered from smoke inhalation.

The area scorched by the blaze now lies barren, and there has been a heavy loss of wildlife, he added.

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