Wildfire ravages 20,000 hectares of Algerian woodland

SHOTLIST:TIZI OUZOU, ALGERIA, AUGUST 28, 2012, SOURCE: AFPTVSOUNDBITE 1 - Lieutenant Ghezali Cherif (man), in charge of communication for the wilaya of Tizi Ouzou (French, 14 sec):"Since the beginning of the forest wildfires on June 1st and up until August 25th, the wilaya of Tizi Ouzou has registered 476 fires."SOUNDBITE 2 - Lieutenant Ghezali Cherif (man), in charge of communication for the wilaya of Tizi Ouzou (French, 20 sec):"There are approximately 4000 hectares of bush and scrub that have caught on fire. We also have 38900 olive trees, for which the wilaya of Tizi Ouzou is known for, and about 250 bee hives that were destroyed by the flames."SOUDBITE 3 - Said (man), resident of Laarba Nath Irathen (French, 7 sec):"Apparently, these are deliberate fires. But a lot of people are saying that this person or this person is responsible so we don't really know for sure."SOUNDBITE 4 - Said (man), resident of Laarba Nath Irathen (French, 8 sec):"In our region, there are a lot of fruit trees, mainly olive trees, and all of them have gone up in smoke."50 sec of images showing:- Shot of a fire truck leaving the station- Shot of the "Algerian Civil Protection" logo- Shot of the fire station- Shot of a burning tree- VAR of landscapes destroyed by fires///---------------------------------------------------------AFP TEXT STORY: Algeria-fire Wildfire ravages 20,000 hectares of Algerian woodland ALGIERS, Aug 14, 2012 (AFP) - Wildfires have devastated 20,000 hectares of Algerian land since June, the head of the forestry department said on Tuesday, blaming a heatwave that has also seen vast swathes of Spanish woodland burn. "At the moment, there are 115 fires burning. We are experiencing exceptionally hot conditions," Mohamed Seghir Noual told a news conference. "We have recorded 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of land burnt." The weather conditions, and the ongoing heatwave in particular, were the principal reason for the forest fires, Noual said, adding that the security forces would investigate every fire to see if criminal activity was involved. Noual said some of the fires were man-made but most of them were the result of carelessness. The emergency services' spokesman, Farouk Achour, said "important means had mobilised" to put out the flames, including the deployment of around 14,000 firemen. A firefighter and a forest worker were burned to death last week while battling a fire in Souk Ahras, around 600 kilometres southeast of the capital. Algeria, the largest country in Africa, has an estimated 4.5 million hectares of woodland, most of which consists of pine and cork oak trees. Earlier reports have said that the areas worst affected by the fires, which have also destroyed fruit trees and cereal crops, were the eastern region of Constantine and the western province of Sidi Belabbes. The government in Spain, where a forest fire near the southeastern city of Alicante killed two members of the emergency team battling the blaze at the weekend, has said 132,300 hectares of land have been burnt this year. ad-amb/sma/hkb