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Firefighters at work in Oaxaca. Firefighters at work in Oaxaca.

Oaxaca wildfires trigger emergency declaration in 9 municipalities

9 people have lost their lives in one of the fires

In the face of spreading wildfires, the state of Oaxaca is asking the federal government to extend its state of emergency declaration from four municipalities to nine. 

The request comes after high winds intensified a fire that spread from the rural town of Santiago Juxtlahuaca on April 9 to Santos Reyes Tepillo — an indigenous town of fewer than 1,000 people in the southern Mexico state’s Mixteca region — where nine people lost their lives last week. 

Representatives of the state government met with the families of those who perished to discuss offering them life insurance benefits, policies the government has reserved for accidental deaths in cases due to circumstances like the fires. 

The National Forestry Commission (Conafor) reported that the fire was 75% contained. The agency said that 138 people from the communities of Santa María Tindú, San Juan Cahuayaxi, Guadalupe Mesón and Tinuma de Zaragoza were working alongside 35 firefighters from the National Defense Ministry (Sedena), 30 from the National Guard, 14 from the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas (Conanp), six from the State Forestry Commission (Coesfo), 14 rural firefighters and 24 from Conafor.

Twelve firetrucks have been dispatched, as well as two helicopters which have made at least 80 water drops in an attempt to put out the fires.

In the first four months of 2020, Oaxaca has seen 95 forest fires across the state that have charred more than 7,166 acres. 

It is nothing new for Oaxaca. Last year around this time the state was fighting 172 forest fires that had consumed nearly 23,000 acres. In 2019, 129 separate forest fires burned their way through the Oaxaca countryside, destroying a devastating 48,432 acres in total.

Across Mexico, 20 states are currently reporting forest fires that have burned nearly 15,000 acres. 

Source: El Milenio (sp), El Universal (sp)

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