By Pooya Stone
Massive fires have swept the Khaeez protected forest in southwest Iran since Thursday, killing many of the animals there, and even coming back to life on Saturday, just hours after local officials said they’d been extinguished.
The 33-hectare Khaeez forest, which lies across the provinces of Khuzestan and Kohgiloyeh and Boyerahmad, was granted protected status in 1998 because of its unique flora and fauna, which includes wild goats, leopards, and caracals (Persian lynxes).
Kohgiluyeh Governor Alireza Atabak called the fires “alarming”, stressed that the situation is now “critical”, and said that they needed to stop the fire spreading to other protected areas
Several videos on social media show that the fire is already spreading, including to Kermanshah province and the trailers and tents in Sarpol-e Zahab, which are occupied by survivors of the 6.3 magnitude earthquake in 2018.
One main problem for tackling this fire is that there is a lack of adequate firefighting facilities. This is evidenced by many videos on social media that show locals using blankets or whatever they can get hold of to put out the fires. Due to institutionalized corruption of the Iranian government, and authorities’ negligence in helping locals or providing the adequate firefighting facilities the fire continues to spread.
Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), said: “The forests and pastures of nine provinces along the Zagros Mountains have been burning for 9 days. In the absence of any effective measures by the government, people are fighting the fire with empty hands.”
The Commander of Iran’s Environment Protection Unit, which seems to be another government branch that does nothing to execute the duties that you would assume it had, told Iranian state-run TV that fires in Kohgiluyeh Province was too big to control and that they did not have a helicopter with a water bucket for aerial fire fighting.
Fires are also raging in the Koh Sia Mountains in Bushehr, southern Iran, as well as the Khaiez forest in Dehdasht, southwest Iran. Videos online show animals fleeing Khaiez after over 100 hectares of forests burned in just two days. Photos of all three fires can be seen here.
In a series of tweets on the subject, Iran News Wire pointed out that the Iranian regime spends millions on terrorism, warfare, missile programs, and domestic suppression, but doesn’t have the money to equip firefighters with adequate equipment.