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Monday, May 20, 2024

Costa Rica’s Wildfire Crisis: Chira Island Battling Uncontrolled Blaze

Over 286 hectares have been consumed since last Sunday, the 24th, by a forest fire that broke out on Chira Island, located near Puerto Palito. Forest firefighters from the brigade of the Peninsular Biological Corridor, the Tempisque Conservation Area (ACT) of the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC-MINAE) maintain extinguishing and fire control work.

Apparently, the fire was intentionally set in a specific sector that was being cleared; however, it got out of control. The pertinent coordination is carried out, and the fire has spread through the Penca to the Palito sector.

“The area has forest coverage consisting of Tacotal and secondary forest, with fuels ranging from light, medium, and some heavy, which has allowed the fire to advance rapidly due to the presence of a lot of leaf litter, and the humidity of the fuels is very low,” said Oscar Mora, Coordinator of the National Fire Program of SINAC-MINAE.

The fire started last Sunday and has spread rapidly, despite all the human resources available in ACT being used to combat the incident. The situation is aggravated by the complex topography, strong winds, and high temperatures in the area, making it very difficult to control the fire and putting a heavy strain on personnel.

Given the seriousness of the emergency, the Executive Directorate of SINAC has declared “Forest Fire Level 3”, so that inter-institutional attention to this emergency can be coordinated, considering the difficulties of access to the site, the prolonged dry season, as well as the risk that a change in wind speed will activate the advance of the fire towards the residents of the island with greater force.

Forest firefighters from different Conservation Areas and from the Executive Secretariat will join the personnel stationed at the site of the emergency to provide support in controlling, extinguishing, and liquidating the forest fire affecting the aforementioned island. The support of other brigades is expected.

The fire spreads from the lower part of the island to the highest part, where it has been difficult to control due to the type of topography, with slopes, rocky areas, and very dry fuels that burn very quickly.

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