Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Number of active wildfires down to 69 across Mexico

Mexico’s National Forestry Commission (Conafor) reported that 39 forest fires around the country had been extinguished but that 69 were still active as of Monday morning.

In a post on the social media site X, the agency also reported 2,807 combatants were fighting the blazes, which covered nearly 12,000 hectares.

A forestry commission graphic shows the location of wildfires still active on Monday.
A forestry commission graphic shows the location of wildfires still active on Monday. (Conafor)

Earlier Monday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador addressed the wildfires during his press conference  at the National Palace. At that time, his data showed 84 fires were still active.

The nation’s silver-haired leader also took time during his mañanera to deny that Mexico’s more than 100 fires this year have been caused by real-estate developers wanting to build on that land, something he hinted at last week.

“Real estate interests are also always there,” he said on Wednesday. “I don’t rule it out.”

AMLO clarified his statements on Monday by saying, “From what we have investigated, the number of fires has to do with the drought [and] very high temperatures.”

Firefighting helicopter dropping fire extinguishing chemicals over a forest
Firefighters try to get ahead of a forest fire in Acapulco’s El Veladero National Park earlier this month. (Carlos Carbajal/Cuartoscuro)

He said it cannot be established that there are “bad intentions of developers who want to burn a forest to establish housing,” adding, “More than anything, it is due to accidents” or “the burning of grasslands for livestock and agriculture.”

As of last Wednesday, there were a record 120 wildfires burning in 19 states, according to Mexico’s National Forestry Commission (Conafor). The agency noted that 6,195 firefighters and seven helicopter teams were fighting the blazes that had ravaged 7,137 hectares.

On Monday, Conafor posted updated numbers through 11 a.m. that included 69 active fires in 19 states, covering 11,882 hectares and including 12 fires in natural protected areas.

The president noted that the state of México had the most fires with 11, followed by Guerrero with 10.

According to his data at the time, 3,845 people were fighting the fires: 723 from the forestry commission (Conafor), 1,045 from the Ministry of Defense (Sedena), 338 from the National Guard, 666 from state governments and 1,073 from other agencies.

Overall, from Jan. 1 to March 21, Conafar said 667 forest fires had been recorded in 23 states, in an area of ​​22,247 hectares. Last week, there were 20 new fires, mostly in the states of Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Chiapas, Durango and Morelos.

Federal officials say they have ramped up coordination between different government agencies and entities. The synergy has reportedly allowed a rapid response to fire reports, with an average response time of less than 2 hours, even in remote and difficult-to-access areas, according to officials.

Fire brigades in Veracruz
As of last Wednesday, there are 1,000 firefighters working to extinguish wildfires in Veracruz. (Cuartoscuro)

In terms of area, the state most affected by the fires is Oaxaca, where 6,633 hectares have burned. México state, Veracruz and Guanajuato have each suffered more than 2,000 hectares of damage.

The natural areas affected include the Nevado de Toluca in central Mexico, the Sierra Gorda in northern Querétaro and neighboring states, the La Sepultura Biosphere Reserve in Chiapas and the El Tepozteco archaeological site in Morelos.

With reports from Excelsior and Aristegui Noticias

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