Sunday, May 19, 2024

Acapulco on alert as 5 active wildfires close in on the city

As if recovery from Hurricane Otis and rising attacks from organized crime were not enough, the Acapulco region is also dealing with five active forest fires this week.

Municipal authorities have confirmed that all five blazes are located in the El Veladero National Park, about 15 kilometers north of downtown Acapulco. The state Civil Protection Agency has reported that the conflagrations originated in trash piles that were set on fire and burned out of control.

The two biggest wildfires have consumed a combined 90 hectares. The largest is near the village of Carabalí and firefighters have been battling that blaze since Wednesday.

Another fire is threatening the El Coloso housing project on the northern outskirts of Acapulco. That blaze has destroyed 30 hectares of forest and prompted Mayor Abelina López Rodríguez to order an evacuation of all residents living within 100 meters of the fire. Shelters have been set up to house the evacuees.

Municipal Fire Chief Raúl Noyola told reporters that firefighters have employed mitigation works and built some firewalls to protect the neighborhood but explained that his men have been unable to encircle the fire for fear of being trapped in the higher reaches of the forest.

The Civil Protection Agency revealed that more than 770 firefighters were battling the blazes in the Acapulco area, including 120 from the National Forest Commission (Conafor). Officials from the National Defense Ministry (Sedena) and the National Commission for Protected Natural Areas were contributing to the mitigation efforts.

A firefighter in a forest
More than 700 firefighters have been working to extinguish the wildfires that threaten the city. (Abelina López Rodríguez/X)

On Friday, officials were preparing to enlist a helicopter water tank to suppress the Carabalí fire which had begun to spread east and link up with the blaze threatening the Palma Sola neighborhood to the northeast. Reports also suggested the helicopter would be needed to protect the Praderas de Costa Azul neighborhood to the east of the El Coloso fire.

The remaining two fires were said to be almost under control. The first is near the village of San Agustín in the extreme northeast and the other was outside the Ejido Viejo community about 30 kilometers further to the northwest on the opposite side of the national park.

With reports from El Universal, El Sur, Aristegui Noticias and Quadratín Guerrero

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