Firefighters with Costa Rica’s National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) have successfully contained a forest fire that broke out earlier this week within the ecologically rich Lomas Barbudal Biological Reserve. Thanks to the rapid detection and mobilization of response teams, the blaze was brought under control within a day, minimizing damages.
The fire was first spotted on February 7th by satellite monitoring systems newly activated under SINAC’s 2024 Permanent Alert initiative for early forest fire warnings. Given the reserve’s abundance of dry vegetation and weather conditions conducive to the fire’s spread, responders from the Arenal Tempisque Conservation Area (ACAT) immediately took action.
“Our teams rushed to the site and quickly established firebreaks by clearing vegetation to starve the fire of fuel,” recounted Jose Aguilar, an ACAT forest firefighter. In total, eight firefighters worked tirelessly, leveraging expert training and specialized equipment to extinguish the encroaching flames.
Preliminary assessments indicate approximately 40 hectares suffered burns, though experts are still analyzing the full scope of the environmental impact. Fortunately, thanks to SINAC’s proactive permanent alert protocols, responders contained the Lomas Barbudal fire within a day, preventing it from swelling out of control.
“Forest fires are emergencies necessitating urgent attention due to their devastating ecological consequences if left unchecked,” stressed Minister of Environment and Energy Franz Tattenbach during a press conference. “Through our early alerts and experienced firefighters, we successfully minimized damages from this week’s fire.”
As part of 2024 readiness plans, SINAC has mandated all conservation areas countrywide to enforce strict fire prevention and response measures on protected lands. Recommendations include establishing firebreaks, closely monitoring risk factors, and suspending agricultural burning permits if hazards escalate.
Officials also remind the public to obtain approval before burning foliage and urge extreme caution with ignition sources across all of Costa Rica’s woodlands. Citizens play a key role in preventing human-caused blazes during the intense dry season.
With temperatures rising and moisture plummeting, experts anticipate further fire risks in protected ecosystems and beyond. By readying resources and response teams for rapid deployment, MINAE and SINAC aim to safeguard Costa Rica’s natural heritage from future wildfire threats through vigilant protection protocols.