Published Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Alert on the risk of forest fires
due to strong winds
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Authorities of the Costa Rica Firefighters call on the public to avoid making any kind of fire because of the risk of massive uncontrolled blazes usually caused by the strong winds which increase during this month.
According to the Meteorological Institute report on Monday, gusts over 75 km/h have been recorded in some regions of the country, as a consequence of a high-pressure system that is located in the Atlantic Sea, which causes high atmospheric pressure over the Caribbean Sea (Limón Province), the North Pacific Coast (Guanacaste Province) and west of the Central Valley (San José Province).
With the current conditions of winds, easily any fire will get out of control and thereby cause massive flames. Also, the high temperatures, low relative humidity and current conditions of dry vegetation are factors that will cause a simple wood fire to become a forest fire that can cause serious consequences to the environment and the community.
According to the Fire Department, this time of year is when house fires and wooded area fires increase.
The most recent case happened on Sunday when firefighters attended a fire alert in a house located in Naranjo Canton, Alajuela Province.
It is presumed the fire originated inside the house, destroying the whole property within a few minutes. The people who lived in the house managed to escape the flames and no medical attention was necessary to the victims.
According to representatives of the National System of Conservation Areas, SINAC, as of Jan. 15, the forest fire season usually begins. In the past, gusts from 50 km/h to 100 km/h have been recorded in some regions of the country during the dry season.
Experts have a fire prevention plan that includes increasing operational actions of fire detection through the use of satellite images, activation of permanent watchtowers on land and aerial patrols, among other strategies.
Last year, authorities trained more than 950 people, including forest firefighters, park rangers and volunteers, to carry out prevention work along with the country for the extinction of forest fires within the national parks.
Every year volunteers visit high-risk communities to inform them about precautionary measures to avoid fires, as well as a prevention campaign developed in the media.
According to specialists, usually in December farmers begin cleaning vegetation land using controlled fires. Also, sugar cane growers routinely burn off the vegetation in their fields to make cutting the cane easier and to eliminate dangerous pests. Those activities may cause forest fires.
The months of March and April are the most critical for forest fires to occur due to the increase in dryness, the practices of cleaning land with controlled fires, high winds, high temperature and low humidity, the specialists said.
From a technical point of view, the country will have more severe seasons each year due to the effects of climate change, which is modifying the structure and conditions of the plants making it easier to burn, and also, there is a large accumulation of biomass, SINAC said in its statement.
Officials remind the population that only with the authorization of the Ministry of Agriculture, controlled fires can be made for cleaning properties of unwanted vegetation. "It is forbidden to burn in empty lots, or make fires in protected wild areas," SINAC said in its statement.
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