Report nearly a million acres damaged by fires in Santa Cruz

The area covered by forest fires in Santa Cruz is approximately one million hectares after a “significant increase” in high wind emergencies was noted in that department.

Santa Cruz Government Minister for Sustainable Development and Environment Alejandra Sandoval told the media that there had been “a significant increase in emergencies” due to fires “due to weather conditions and changing winds.”

“We have 13 active fires spread across eight communes in the department. That means we have been affected around a million hectares to date, ”he said.

A total of 973,320 hectares are affected by the fire and there are currently 90 sources of fire, according to the government.

The cumulative number of fires in Santa Cruz is 872 so far in September and 21,620 since January.

According to Sandoval, 64% of Santa Cruz Department are at “high risk” of becoming vulnerable to forest fires.

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The affected communities are San Ignacio, Roboré, San Matías, Puerto Suárez, San José, El Carmen Rivero Tórrez, San Javier and San Antonio de Lomerío, he said.

Last week, the rains in Santa Cruz made it possible to stifle and reduce the outbreaks it burns, as well as lowering the risk posed by the fires in the area.

Sandoval assured that the departmental government has dismissed auxiliary brigades and a fleet of heavy machinery to combat emergencies.

In addition, the government’s wildlife rescue teams visited the areas affected by the fires to rescue animals and assess the damage, said Paola Montenegro, coordinator of the state biodiversity program.

The “rake” included the Otuquis National Park, which borders Paraguay and Brazil, as well as the areas of Puerto Busch, San Matías, Candelaria and San Bartolo, according to the same source.

An anteater was rescued this week in Roboré and a baby ocelot or tigrillo was rescued near San Bartolo.

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The anteater recovered well and was returned to its habitat, while the ocelot found by forest firefighters was taken to the environmental education center, where the government says it will receive veterinary care.

For his part, Defense Minister Edmundo Novillo highlighted the work of the armed forces in fighting fires and recalled that the payment of the equivalent of one million dollars had been ordered to supply the soldiers and fuel for vehicles, planes and machines involved in these tasks.

Novillo also lamented the recent death of a volunteer firefighter in the central region of Cochabamba fighting a forest fire in the city of Sacaba, her office said.

The national government supports measures against fires across the country through the Vice Ministry of Civil Defense and the armed forces.

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