Disasters & Accidents

Firefighters continue to battle flames across Colombia

Bogotá, Jan 26 (EFE). – On Friday, firefighters completed more than one hundred hours of fighting forest fires throughout the country. In Bogotá, there have been several blazes throughout the last five days in the eastern mountains, where two outbreaks persist, said Carlos Fernando Galán, the city’s mayor, on Friday.

The first fire was reported on Monday, and several more have been burning throughout the eastern ridge of the city, including one on the El Cable mountain, where several TV, radio, and other transmitters are located.

“After almost 100 hours of tireless work to control the fires in Bogotá, two points in the eastern hills are still active,” Galán said Friday.

According to the mayor, “about 800 people” are working to extinguish the fires, including firefighters, soldiers, police, and volunteers, who have the support of Armed Forces helicopters that have dumped thousands of liters of water on the fires.

So far, the fires, which have not caused casualties or damage to infrastructure, have mostly affected the mountain ecosystem in one of the city’s most important natural reserves.

Fires burning across the country

The Colombian authorities registered about thirty fires this week in different parts of the country, some have already been extinguished, but new outbreaks have also been reported.

Among the extinguished fires, the most dangerous in environmental terms was in the Páramo Berlin, a high-altitude grassland, in the department of Santander (northeast).

The fire destroyed hundreds of hectares of frailejones, a plant that absorbs moisture from the fog and is essential for moisture regulation and drinking water production.

“Currently we do not have any fires in the department, but we sent an alert to the municipalities at risk. Tomorrow we will visit the Páramo to bring aid and announce a recovery plan,” said Juvenal Diaz, the governor of Santander, on his X account on Friday.

On Friday, news outlets reported that another large fire consumed thousands of acres of savanna vegetation in the plains of the Tuparro National Park in a remote area of the department of Vichada that borders Venezuela.

“Currently, more than 8,100 hectares in the park have been consumed by the fire. The emergency has already escalated to a critical level,” said the Risk Management Coordinator, René García, in an interview with Blu Radio.

The fight against the fire also continues in Nemocón, a municipality in the department of Cundinamarca, located 70 kilometers north of Bogotá, where at least 180 hectares have been devastated by the fire in several rural areas.

Man-made fires

The intense heat and lack of rain that Colombia is experiencing due to the El Niño phenomenon boosted the fires, but many were caused by criminal hands, according to authorities.

The Ministry of the Interior, which launched the campaign “El Niño is not a game” to prevent these fires, said “it estimated that 95% of the forest fires are caused by human actions.”

While the fight against the fire continues without interruption, the country awaits the arrival of international aid to fight the fires, announced on Thursday by President Gustavo Petro and the mayor of Bogotá. EFE



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