Bush fire wreaks havoc near Lebanon's presidential palace
A bush fire driven by hot winds in the Baabda district forced the evacuation of residents on Monday as firefighters struggled to control the blaze.
The fire, which started at around 8:00 am in Betshay, sent smoke billowing into Baabda's sky.
It came amid hot weather and strong winds blowing on Lebanon. Temperatures were as high as 31 degrees Celsius in the early morning.
Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) said firefighters were unable to contain the blaze due to strong winds.
Units from Beirut later joined the firefighters in the area to assist them to battle the blaze which spread to forests in Baabda and Louaize.
A helicopter was also deployed.
One of the parking lots near Baabda Palace was evacuated as a precautionary measure.
The state-run National News Agency said some people were evacuated in Betshay after the fire approached their houses.
The army advised the residents to leave their houses to avoid smoke inhalation.
Environment Minister Mohammed al-Mashnouq urged municipalities and civil defense units to exert all efforts to douse the blaze.
“Any delay by citizens to inform (authorities) about a fire would threaten houses and bushes in Lebanon,” he said in a statement.
The blaze comes ahead of the hotter summer months when fires most frequently break out.