TUNIS, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- Frequent fires amid heat waves erupted across eight provinces in Tunisia, crushing 2,000 hectares of land, local media reported on Sunday.
The Secretary of State for Agriculture Omar Bahi said that the figure is hitting a record as "anxious and exceptional," with the average annual damage caused by fires stays at about 1,300 hectares.
Almost all the fires were controlled except for four provinces, namely Bizerte in the north, Beja and Jendouba in the northwest, and Kasserine in the centerwest, said Bahi during a joint press briefing with representatives of the National Guard and Civil Protection.
The official spokesman of the Tunisian National Guard Khalifa Chibani confirmed the evidence of natural causes referring to the over-week-long heat wave in Tunisia, with 47 degrees Celsius in the shade and 59 degrees Celsius under the sun.
Chibani also announced the arrest of a dozen individuals who triggered many of the fires.
"The majority of these people suspected of firing in some forest areas are former employees in the public sector or citizens with personal motives," he said.
Since 2011, the recurrence of fires in Tunisia, especially during the summer season, is steadily increasing.
In 2014, around 400 fires ravaged 4,700 hectares of land before resuming in the last years a relatively normal rhythm, according to Habib Abid, general director of forests in the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture.