Blaze engulfed trees over a 10-dunnum area

By Hana Namrouqa – Aug 23,2017

AMMAN — Initial results of an investigation into a wildfire that erupted on Monday in Dibbeen Forest Reserve indicated that it was caused by an act of arson, a government official said on Wednesday.

Authorities have no suspects yet, according to Bassam Fawair, director of the forestry department at the Ministry of Agriculture.

“The investigation shows that the fire was most likely started deliberately, because it happened in an area of rough topography with difficult access for picnickers,” Fawair told The Jordan Times.

The investigation also ruled out the possibility that the fire might have started from a barbeque fire made by shepherds, according to Fawair, who said that no signs of sheep were found in the area.

The fire engulfed trees over a 10-dunnum area, the director said, adding that quick detection of the fire prevented it from spreading.

“The control towers in the forest detected the smoke as soon as the fire started and alerted the relevant agencies,” Fawair said.

He underscored that fire engines from the Civil Defence Department of Jerash and Ajloun participated in extinguishing the fire, in addition to the forestry department’s personnel.

“Ten Greek juniper trees aged around 30 years were completely burned out. Many other trees such as maple, oak and pistacia were also damaged in the fire but are expected to survive because the flames only reached the leaves and branches of the centennial trees,” Fawair highlighted.

Located in Jerash Governorate, around 48km north of Amman, the Dibbeen Forest Reserve was established in 2004 with the aim of protecting Aleppo pines, especially since Dibbeen is the driest place in the world in which Aleppo pines grow naturally, with an average rainfall of around 400 millimetres per year, according to the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.

The Dibbeen forest is home to at least 17 threatened species, including the Persian squirrel, in addition to over a quarter of the butterfly species that exist in the Kingdom. It extends over 8.5 square kilometres of mountainous topography, rich with pine and oak trees.