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Wild Costa Rica

- Photo via Costa Rica Fire Department -

Firefighters stop Chira Island and Prussia Reserve fire forests

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Published on Thursday, March 28, 2024
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rica Fire Department stated that they had successfully stopped the advance of a forest fire near Palito Port on Chira Island in Puntarenas Province and the Prussia Forest Reserve of the Irazu Volcano National Park in Cartago Province.

In the case of the island, after working continuously since Sunday, they were able to control the perimeter of the burned area, which included around 300 hectares of woodland. The strategy prevents the fire from spreading to other sections of the island, according to the firemen report.

Throughout the rest of the week, firefighters will continue to clean up the burned area and ensure that no new fires develop within the perimeter.

Initial investigations determined that the fire appeared to have been ignited on purpose. This occurred while individuals were attempting to clear an area of weeds with fire, but the fire expanded out of control due to high winds, according to the National System of Conservation Areas (Sinac), the institution in charge of managing all of the country's wild regions and national parks.

Fuel remnants were discovered in the region, allowing the fire to spread faster due to the presence of a lot of leaf litter and dry wood from the dry season, said Oscar Mora, Coordinator of the National Fire Program.

To respond to the emergency, about 30 forest firefighter units were required. They were exposed to temperatures about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. To avoid dehydration, the firemen had to consume around one liter of water each hour, for a total of 12 liters per day.

Chira Island is a 4,300-hectare protected area located near the upper end of the Nicoya Gulf. The zone has the highest preserved richness of tropical dry forest flora in Costa Rica. 

According to the 2011 census, around 1,500 people were living in six communities along the island's northern border. The remainder of the island is characterized by mangrove wetlands. 

On Tuesday, they successfully extinguished a fire in the Prussia Forest Reserve.

This fire destroyed approximately one acre requiring the efforts of 15 firefighting units who worked all day to contain the situation.

Fire control specialists discovered that this fire began as a result of a campfire built by a group of persons who came to camp even though entering the Prussian wilderness region was banned.

"This fire was caused by a bonfire made by people who entered this wild area illegally," said Reina Sánchez, park manager.

The Prusia region is part of the 2,000-hectare volcano park protected zone and home to a forestry effort aimed at restoring the area devastated by 1960s eruptions. The forest consists of conifers and other exotic and native species, as well as a natural forest mostly composed of oaks and alder, which protects the Reventado River's watershed.

In January, the park rangers activated the Permanent Alert status, which will begin at the starting point of the 2024 forest fire season.

According to the Costa Rica Fire Department, 45 forest fires were reported last year.  

Park rangers strongly advise people not to build bonfires or burn waste. In addition, any suspicion of a fire, including bonfires on private property, should be reported to 911.

What have you heard about forest fires in your community? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to news@amcostarica.com