More than 1,500 hectares (about 3,700 acres) of the Palo Verde National Park were charred in a blaze that officials believe was intentionally set.
The fire, which was put out last week, was the 37th wildfire this year.
“It is a fact” that the fire was caused by humans, and investigators are looking into multiple theories, said Luis Diego Román, the coordinator of the National Fire Management Program, an office of the Environment and Energy Ministry (MINAE).
The Palo Verde fire follows a 900- hectare (2,223-acre) blaze that tore through regenerated forest in the Santa Rosa National Park in Guanacaste in late April (TT, April 25).
This is the second fire to strike Palo Verde, as another 1,500 hectares of wetlands burned earlier this year, Román said. In both fires, an invasive species of marsh plant called typha, or more commonly known as cattail or bulrush, burned throughout the park’s dried-out wetlands.
With this fire, a total of 6,900 hectares of national park land have burned this year, he said.
This is a drop from last year’s unusually damaging season, when 90 forest fires scorched a total of 32,000 hectares (79,000 acres). Of those, 54 fires were inside protected areas.
Last year’s largest fire covered 2,000 hectares (4,950 acres) inside the GuanacasteNational Park.
According to Román, the majority of fires, particularly those in national parks, are set by humans, often intentionally as revenge against land protection regulations or to clear land for other uses.