Fire in Kurdistan burns over 50 acres of mountainous land, detonates mines

A fire erupted and spread to two mountains in the eastern portion of the Kurdistan Region’s province of Erbil on Friday night, burning large swaths of land and detonating at least two landmines laid decades ago, local authorities said.
author_image Sangar Ali

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A fire erupted and spread to two mountains in the eastern portion of the Kurdistan Region’s province of Erbil on Friday night, burning large swaths of land and detonating at least two landmines laid decades ago, local authorities said.

The fire affected mountains in Surki and Suse, Director of Koya’s Civil Defense, Goran Ahmed, told Kurdistan 24 on Saturday.

“Two mines were detonated in the area as our team was trying to extinguish the fire,” he said.

The mines likely date back to the Iran – Iraq war in the 1980s, planted by the former Iraqi regime to prevent Iranian forces from advancing in the area. In recent years, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has cooperated with various international organizations in efforts to clear millions of mines across the Kurdistan Region.

“Because of mines, our team was unable to do their job appropriately. They were mostly trying to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading to other nearby mountains,” Ahmed added.

The cause of the blaze remains unknown for now but, according to the official, most fires in the area are sparked intentionally.

He mentioned that the fire had burned over 50 acres of land, including a large number of trees in the area, causing considerable environmental damage.

Rising temperatures in summer often add to the risk of fires across agricultural lands in the autonomous Kurdistan Region and Iraq. 

Editing by John J. Catherine