Disasters & Accidents

Uruguay’s president visits area devastated by wildfires

Montevideo, Jan 1 (EFE).- President Luis Lacalle Pou traveled Saturday to western Uruguay for a first-hand look at efforts against wildfires that have already consumed more than 20,000 hectares (49,000 acres) of land in Rio Negro and Paysandu provinces.

Rain that fell late Saturday helped reduce the intensity of what are already among the most destructive blazes in the country’s history, National Fire Department spokesman Pablo Benitez told Efe.

Even so, he said, firefighters will need several more days to bring the fires under control.

The crews, which include firefighters from around the country and members of the military, had to intervene when the flames came dangerously close to populated areas, Benitez said.

Paysandu’s governor, Nicolas Olivera, praised the work of the fire crews in comments to Efe and hailed the gestures of solidarity from people in other parts of Uruguay toward residents of the affected areas.

Olivera and his counterpart in Rio Negro, Omar Lafluf, met with Lacalle Pou on Saturday afternoon. EFE scr/dr

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