Iran’s government criticized for inaction to contain large wildfires

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The Iranian government has been subject to criticism by environmental activists for not taking appropriate measures as wildfires have been raging across western and southern Iran in recent days causing widespread damage to the environment and wildlife.

Authorities in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province have been able to “contain” the fire in the province’s Khaeiz conservation area, which is where the wildfire reportedly started, the director general of the provincial office of the department of environment said on Monday.

“There is still no information on the extent of damage caused by the fire,” the official IRNA news agency reported Asadollah Hashemi as saying.

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“The initial estimate of the lands affected by the fire is about 20 hectares,” Kurosh Kiani, the province's director general of natural resources, told the semi-official ISNA news agency.

The fire in the area was “intentional,” Kiani said, adding that “the culprits have been identified and handed over to the judiciary.”

Khaeiz is also home to some animals. Videos and images shared on social media showed various animals that had burned to death.

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Environmental activists have criticized the government for inaction. Most of the fires are in high-altitude areas and it is not possible to put them out without the use of helicopters, local activities say.

Masoud Mansour, the head of Iran’s forestry organization, told state media on Saturday that helicopters were not sent to extinguish the fires as the organization owes about $2 million to the ministry of defense.

In addition to the Khaeiz region, other scattered fires have occurred in recent days on the outskirts of the Zagros mountain range in the four provinces of Bushehr, Khuzestan, Ilam, and Kurdistan.

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