Syrian refugee camp gutted by fire which destroyed almost every tent



A refugee camp housing Syrians who fled the civil war has been gutted by fire, with almost all of the tents destroyed.

At least one person died after the flames broke out today, sending plumes of black smoke into the sky.

‘The settlement has turned to ashes. Even the iron melted,’ emergency worker Ahmed Salloum said on Sunday.

He said firefighters tried to contain the fire after it broke out around midday, but they couldn’t stop the spread with temperatures soaring in Lebanon’s Bekaa region, where the camp was built near Qab Elias town.

Salloum, an electricity technician, said he suspected an overload of power was to blame for the blaze which left only the bathrooms at the edge of the settlement still standing.

The sound of gas canisters exploding could be heard from a distance.

George Ketteneh of Lebanon’s Red Cross said initial reports indicate that over 100 tents burned down.

He said that about 97 families – around 700 people – lived in the informal settlement and are now homeless.

At least six people were wounded, and the refugee who died is said to be a child.

Lebanon is home to over a million registered Syrian refugees, who mostly live in settlements in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, near the border.

The fire comes two days after Lebanese authorities rounded up nearly 400 Syrian refugees following an attack on military troops conducting raids in refugee camps in Arsal, another town near the border with Syria.

The authorities said the raids followed a tip that a terrorist attack was planned out of the camps.
But Syrian activists and refugees criticised the raids, saying the mass sweep was excessive and that detainees were abused.

The Lebanese military denies the allegations of abuse.

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