QCOSTARICA – The number of forest fires went from just four during January to a total of 13 in the first half of February, according to the National System of Conservation Areas (Sinac).
The 13 fires in February have affected a total of 281 hectares, however, seven of these have been within Protected Wilderness Areas (ASP), impacting around 250 hectares in Sardinal de Guanacaste.
In total, the Cuerpo de Bomberos (Fire Department) reports forest fires consumed up to 719 hectares, with the majority occurring in the Guanacaste region.
Of the three active fires, two continue burning in Santa Cruz, in Guanacaste, and one in Turrubares, San José province.
Luis Salas, chief of Operations at the Bomberos, reported that in Turrubares one of the problems is the difficult access to several steep points and the strong wind that fuels the fire. “The impact is devastating for the flora and fauna of this protected area,” said Salas.
Some 50 bomberos (firefighters) are attending to the fires with all-terrain vehicles, machetes, rakes, blowers, shovels, portable pumps and hoses, as well as drones that allow them to analyze quickly the affected terrain.
The largest forest fire occurred in Sardinal de Guanacaste, where there was an impact of approximately 250 hectares.
The population is asked not to carry out any type of agricultural burning or “quemas” in Spanish, as other activity that involves the use of fire until the winds slow down.
During the dry season and particular in times of high winds, brush fires are common and can easily convert to forest fires.
“Given the current conditions of strong winds, any fire that occurs in vegetation can get out of control and cause a forest fire,” said Rafael Gutiérrez, director of the Sinac.
According to the national weather service, the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional (IMN), wind gusts will remain between moderate and strong this Thursday, but tomorrow, on Friday, they will regain strength and could reach up to 100 km/h in Guanacaste and between 50 and 80 km/h in the Central Valley.
The official weather forecast for this Thursday, February 23:
A gradual increase in the trade winds will be experienced starting this Thursday and extending into the weekend, a situation caused by the increase in atmospheric pressure levels in the Caribbean Basin.
In addition, an increase in the humidity contained in the environment is estimated, favoring the development of cloudiness, as well as recurrence in rainfall towards the Caribbean region and the North Zone; On the other hand, in the Pacific and west of the Central Valley, little cloud cover will predominate throughout the day.
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