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Fire Destroys Syrian Refugee Camp in Lebanon

Image: Civil defense members and civilians put out fire at a camp for Syrian refugees near the town of Qab Elias, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, July 2, 2017.
Civil defense members and civilians put out fire at a camp for Syrian refugees near the town of Qab Elias in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley on Sunday. Hassan Abdallah / Reuters

BEKAA VALLEY, Lebanon — A devastating fire tore through a camp for Syrian refugees in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley on Sunday, killing at least one person and leaving two in critical condition, the U.N. refugees' organization said.

Flames and thick clouds of black smoke rose from the site near the town of Qab Elias, around a hour's drive east of Beirut, in footage broadcast by Lebanon's MTV, and at least one explosion was seen.

Image: Smoke billows as Syrians refugees attempt to extinguish a massive fire in a camp for refugees near the village of Qab Elias in the Lebanese Bekaa valley on July 2, 2017.
Smoke billows as Syrians refugees attempt to extinguish a massive fire in a camp for refugees near the village of Qab Elias in the Lebanese Bekaa valley on July 2, 2017. Hassan Jarrah / AFP - Getty Images
Massive Fire Tears Through Syrian Refugee Camp 1:38

Reuters TV footage showed the blaze had virtually razed the camp as a fire truck doused down the still-smoldering ground. A Syrian refugee said many of the people living at the camp had come to Lebanon from the Raqqa area of Syria.

UNHCR spokeswoman Dana Sleiman said the camp had been home to 102 families.

"We've started the assessment as to how many tents have been damaged. As soon as the assessment is done, we will provide the families with all the help they need," she said. "Apparently it started with a cooking stove. We are waiting to confirm that."

Massive Fire Destroys Syrian Refugee Camp in Lebanon 1:05

Sleiman and a Lebanese security source had initially put the death toll at three.

Lebanon is hosting at least 1 million registered Syrian refugees, many of them living in tented settlements scattered around the country. The government says that in total there are about 1.5 million Syrians in Lebanon.