Argentina:Summer Wildfires reach new found intensity in Tierra Del Fuego

A federal state of emergency has been declared in Argentina’s extreme
south Tierra del Fuego province, where more than 6.000 hectares of
centuries-old forest have been scorched or are threatened by several
fires, forcing the evacuation of dozens of people, according to an
official release.

“It’s the largest and most impressive forest and
grassland fire we’ve suffered in the last fifty years. 500 hectares of
lenga have been completely lost” said Nicolas Lucas, Tierra del
Fuego’s Sustainable Development and Environment minister, one of the
officials coordinating the rescue efforts. “It’s complicated because
there are multiple outbreaks in a much extended area”, added Lucas. An
estimated eighty fires have been detected and weather conditions with
strong wind gusts have not helped fire fighters. According to still
unconfirmed reports the fire which apparently begun in the farm “La
Correntina” in the heart of the extreme south province, was
“intentional”. No officials were prepared to support the reports, yet.
Argentine Environment Secretary Homero Bibiloni visited the area over
the weekend for a first hand look of the situation and promised more
federal aid and equipments, Forestry expert Marcelo Carvajal described
the situation as “a major disaster” because fire has scorched forests
of the lenga species “which have been around 400 to 500 years”.
Carvajal said it will take at least 70 years for the new trees to
become adults. The lenga beech is described as a deciduous tree or
shrub native to the centre area of the Andes range in the temperate
forests of Chile and Argentina down to Tierra del Fuego. It grows to a
height of up to 30 meters and a trunk diameter of 1.5 meters. The
leaves are 2-4 cm long, with irregularly lobed margin, and turn to
yellow and reddish tones in autumn. The fruit is a small nut 4-7 mm
long. It can be found in the Torres Del Paine national park, the
Tierra del Fuego National Park, the Los Aleroes National Park and the
Nahuel Huapi National Park among other places.

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Comments (1)

perrita analMarch 15th, 2009 at 2:25 pm

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