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HomeCentral AmericaGuatemalaForest Fires Engulf Agua Volcano's Slopes, Guatemala Battles the Blaze

Forest Fires Engulf Agua Volcano’s Slopes, Guatemala Battles the Blaze

A voracious forest fire advances this Thursday on the slopes of the inactive Agua volcano, close to the capital of Guatemala, from where smoke can be observed, without any victims or evacuations reported.

The fire, which started on Wednesday, has devastated the vegetation on the upper part of the 3,766-meter-high volcano, located about 30 km southwest of Guatemala City. Firefighting brigades and military personnel are combating the blaze, supported by two helicopters that are dropping water on the flames.

“For the moment, there are no evacuated people because the fire is towards the south [of the cone] and there are no communities there,” said the head of the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction, Claudinne Ogaldes, in a press conference.

So far, the cause of the blaze and the amount of burned hectares are unknown. Another 13 forest fires are active in different regions of the country, added Ogaldes.

Forest fires consume thousands of hectares in Guatemala each year. The season of highest incidence runs from November to June due to the absence of rain, and most are caused by human activities such as preparing the soil for sowing, according to authorities.

The Agua volcano, one of the highest in Guatemala, is about 10 km from the colonial city of Antigua, the country’s main tourist site. The Maya indigenous people call it Hunahpú and it is part of a protected area due to its diversity of flora and fauna.

In 1541, after several days of rain, a flood of water and mud accumulated in its crater descended, destroying the then colonial capital of Guatemala, now known as Ciudad Vieja and located near Antigua. The volcano is named after this tragedy.

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