The Airborne Division of the Iranian Army Ground Force as well as the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) have deployed their helicopters to help extinguish a wildfire in the country’s south-west.
The choppers were deployed upon the urgent order of President Hassan Rouhani, according to the head of the Defence Ministry’s Crisis Management Department.
During the past week, the Army and IRGC had sent seven helicopters to extinguish the wildfire burning the woodlands of Khuzestan and Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad provinces, Javad Mostafaei said.
Despite several days of efforts to put out the wildfire, the woodlands located on the foothills of Zagros Mountain Chain are still burning.
“It is not possible to deploy forces to contain the fire because of the impassability of the steep slopes where the woodlands are located,” the official said.
Earlier, the head of the Forestry Organization of Iran had noted that helicopters were not sent to extinguish the fires as the organization owes 300 billion rials (about $2 million) to its own Ministry of Defence.
However, Mostafaei announced that the Planning and Budget Organization has undertaken to pay back half of the debt to the armed forces so that the choppers are deployed to the region.
Iranian environmental activists have criticized the government for the lack of coordination and for ignoring the problem.
Reports say part of the fire has been the result of arson, however, high winds in the region have quickly spread the fires.
The wildfire first started in Khaeiz protected area in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province four days ago.