Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Firefighters combat 4 active wildfires in Acapulco area

The beleaguered Pacific port city of Acapulco is again threatened by wildfires, just over a month after five fires ripped through the El Veladero National Park in the municipality.

Neighborhoods in the hills above Acapulco in the state of Guerrero are being threatened by approaching fires, with residents of Santa Cecilia, María de la O and Simón Bolívar issuing requests for assistance on Wednesday.

Dense smoke from the blazes has filtered down from the mountains and has settled above Acapulco Bay, reported newspaper Quadratín Guerrero. Sparks and ashes from the fires have also caused alarm in several neighborhoods above the city.

As smokejumpers and local firefighters built fire lines to protect endangered houses, newspaper El Financiero reported that authorities warned residents to stay inside, keep away from doors, use towels or carpets to block the gaps at the bottom of doors and use masks as necessary. The state educational authorities also canceled classes at schools in Acapulco and state capital Chilpancingo on Thursday.

The Guerrero Civil Protection Ministry (SGRIPC) issued a statement on X early Thursday reporting on the battle against the blaze in the El Veladero National Park. The agency said firefighters would be assisted Thursday by helicopter water tanks from the Naval Ministry (SEMAR).

El Veladero, a 3,160-hectare ecological reserve due north of the port, is the scene of two of the four wildfires currently active in the Acapulco area.

SEMAR helicopter
The Navy has sent in helicopters with water tanks to help control the blaze. (SEMAR/X)

Acapulco Fire Department chief Raúl Noyola told El Sol de Acapulco newspaper that he expects an increase in fires through the end of May. Officials say a major reason for the increase in fires in the area — there have been more than 400 since December — is the damage done by Hurricane Otis when it slammed into Acapulco last October.

The Category 5 hurricane destroyed large sections of the city and wreaked havoc in the mountains above Acapulco, leaving behind large quantities of flammable materials. Whereas the typical fire season begins in March, Noyola explained, the combination of unseasonably high temperatures and enormous amounts of kindling saw Acapulco’s fire season begin in December.

The Guerrero state capital of Chilpancingo is also under threat from two forest fires. The National Forestry Commission (Conafor) on Wednesday reported that there were 80 active wildfires in 17 states across Mexico. The agency also reported 2,270 combatants were fighting the blazes, which covered 77,323 hectares. Sixteen of these conflagrations are in Natural Protected Areas (ANP).

At the beginning of April, Conafor reported just 69 forest fires across the country. As of April 18, 2,698 fires had been registered nationwide this year, with more than 121,000 hectares affected in 29 states.

With reports from El Sol de Acapulco, Quadratín Guerrero and El Financiero

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