Central America: Costa Rica and Nicaragua are on fire!

Nicaragua: A total of 3,246 hectares (8,015 acres) of forest and
pastureland, including 2,571 hectares (6,348 acres) of a nature
reserve, were destroyed by wildfires in Nicaragua that have now been
brought under control, emergency services officials said on Saturday.
Mayor Juan Pablo Montoya, taking his turn as head of emergency
services, told Efe that 1,559 hectares (3,849 acres) of the woodland
consumed by fire were in the Las Pilas-El Hoyo nature reserve
northwest of Managua.

Another 1,012 hectares (2,499 acres) laid waste by the flames belonged to the Cosiguina reserve, located on the volcano of the same name, in the western province of Chinandega, he said. The blaze in the protected areas that normally shelter a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna began four days ago as a result of strong gusts of wind and the carelessness of local residents, the authorities said. The National Forestry Institute, or INAFOR, announced that it will open investigations to find those responsible for the fires and report them.

These are the biggest forest fires seen in Nicaragua in the dry season so far this year. Mayor Montoya said that the blazes began Wednesday and that the main problems that voluntary brigades and other personnel found in trying to control the flames were lack of water and the difficulty of getting trucks to the places that were burning, as well as the strong winds. Fires have burned some 8,000 hectares (19,753 acres) of forest and pastures in Costa Rica this year, with most of the losses occurring in the southern region of the Central American nation, the press reported on Sunday, citing Environment and Energy Ministry figures. The biggest of the blazes is still burning in southern Costa Rica, near the border with Panama, consuming 1,000 hectares (2,469 acres) of forest and pastures, and threatening La Amistad International Park,
which is shared by the two countries.

The fire near the park is no longer as intense as it was, but the 55 firefighters assigned to the area have not been able to bring the blaze under control, National Fire Management Program chief Luis Diego Roman told the press. The fire is moving close to two rivers that provide drinking water for about 20,000 people, Roman said.

Some 25 other firefighters are working to put out a blaze that was extinguished in the middle of last week but restarted on Friday, Roman said, adding that the fire might be controlled on Sunday. The CNE emergency management office declared an alert for southern Costa Rica due to the large number of fires that have broken out in the region.

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