Beirut, Lebanon - Firefighters in Lebanon on Tuesday battled massive wildfires in several areas in the country, before moderate rains in the evening brought them under control in most affected areas.
With more than 100 blazes erupting from north to south over the past two days, Raymond Khattar, the director-general of Lebanon's Civil Defence, described the forest fires as the worst to have hit the country in decades.
At least one man died from suffocation after battling a fire in the city of Aley for several hours. Lebanese media also reported that a woman had lost her life after being run over by a fire truck in the southern coastal city of Sidon.
The Lebanese Red Cross announced that they had treated more than 70 people at a field hospital in Damour, mostly for smoke inhalation, minor burns, and other light injuries.
The areas most heavily affected were in the Chouf and Metn regions, in the lush Mount Lebanon mountain range east and southeast of the capital, Beirut.
Aided by strong winds and unseasonably high temperatures, the fires ate their way through the dense forest near the towns of Meshref and Damour in Chouf and swept into the residential areas overnight on Monday, leading many families to flee their homes.
Videos shared on social media showed hellish scenes of fires sweeping along roadways, releasing hails of embers onto onlookers.
The Lebanese state's ability to combat the rapidly spreading fires quickly came into question, especially given that three aircraft specialized in fighting blazes remained grounded at the airport of Beirut, on Tuesday.
The three Sikorsky S-70 model helicopters were donated to the Lebanese state in 2009, taking part in firefighting missions for several years before falling into disrepair. They have remained non-operational for at least five years due to the failure of successive governments to fund their maintenance.
At the same time, dozens of Civil Defence teams were fighting the fires with little technical capabilities, even enlisting the use of anti-riot vehicles mounted with water cannons.