Bolivia struggles to contain wildfires, declares natural disaster

TRT World:

The wildfires have affected more than 600 families but no fatalities have been reported so far.

A man fights wildfires in Santa Monica near Concepcion, Bolivia, on September 21, 2019. (Reuters)

Bolivia has declared a state of disaster after wildfires ravaged forested and agricultural areas in the eastern part of the country.

In 2019, wildfires destroyed more than 6 million hectares in the Bolivian Amazon. So far this year 1.1 million hectares have burned, according to the government, while the non-government organisation Friends of Nature Foundation (FAN) said the area wrecked was twice as large.

“We are declaring a national disaster due to drought and fires,” President Jeanine Anez said during a press conference.

“We are facing a serious threat and we do not want what happened last year to happen again.”

Authorities reported more than 50 active forest fires, but the number of areas subject to smoke hazards and possible spot fires was much greater, mainly due to drought and the use of fire by growers to clear farmland.

“The fires are advancing, and due to winds and high temperatures there is no other way to face this crisis,” said Defence Minister Fernando Lopez, recognising that current fire-fighting efforts had been insufficient.

The wildfires have affected more than 600 families in the country, though no fatalities have been reported, Lopez said. 

Regional neighbours Argentina and Brazil are also struggling to contain fires that threaten to reach historic levels amid drought and dry weather.

Published by Bolivian Thoughts

Senior managerial experience on sustainable development projects.

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