CAIRO - Egypt used air force helicopters on Saturday to fight a fire which swept through palm plantations in the southwest of the country, threatening residential areas, state news agency MENA reported.The agency said that at least 37 people were hurt, mostly due to smoke inhalation, by the fire which broke out on Friday near the New Valley provincial village of el-Rashda.
Authorities declared a high state of emergency and evacuated houses as 30 fire trucks, backed by four fire-fighting helicopters, battled the flames for more than 16 hours before bringing the fire under control, the agency said.
Seven fire fighters and civil defence personnel were among the injured, who suffered from smoke inhalation or minor burns, the agency said.
There were no reports of deaths and most of the injured were released after treatment at a school after the local clinic was gutted by the fire, it said.
New Valley Governor Mohamed el-Zamlout was quoted as saying that the fire had affected an area of around 100-feddan (104 acre) of mainly palm plantations and threatened to spread to another village. (Reporting by Hesham Haj Ali and Ahmed Tolba, writing by Sami Aboudi, editing by Alexander Smith)