Bolivian fires spark state of emergency

Wednesday 08th Sep 2010 by theWeather Club

 

The curse of wildfires sparked by hot dry conditions show no signs of slowing down as Bolivia is the latest country to be hit. The Government has declared a state of emergency as a series of forest fires have spread across the country. Estimates suggest almost 25,000 individual fires between them have destroyed 1.5 million hectares (3.7. acres) of forest, with the worst damage taking place in Bolivia’s Amazon and eastern region.

The country's President Evo Morales has described the disaster as a natural phenomenon even though many of the fires were started by farmers clearing land ahead of the planting season. Clearing the land using fire is a traditional practice in the region carried out every, and the farmers have a lot of experience at managing the process. But this year, lower rainfall and strong winds have made conditions very difficult causing many of the farmers to lose control of their fires which are now burning out of control.

Mr Morales admitted his country does not have the equipment to fight the fires of this scale and has called for help from neighbouring countries.  Meanwhile on the ground local people have been battling the conflagration with buckets of water. However real salvation lies in rain, which locals are fervently praying for, but unfortunately the dry conditions are forecast to continue for several days to come.