Bolivia: Firefighters Start To Lose Hope To Control Forest Fires

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Bolivian volunteer firefighters have started retreating from the front lines of infernos of Amazon forest fires in Bolivia as they are starting to lose hope.

Written By Kunal Gaurav | Mumbai | Updated On:

Bolivian volunteer firefighters have started to retreat from the front lines of some infernos of Bolivian forest fires which has already consumed more than 3.1 million hectares of forests and grasslands in just over a month in Bolivia. The retreat is caused by the loss of hope to control the fire. According to the Friends of Nature Foundation, based on the estimates of satellite images, the burned area of the Bolivian region is already the size of Switzerland. It is supposed to be the worst fire in at least two decades.

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Setback to the firefighting operations

The drought-stricken region is going through major fires which have destroyed swathes of forest and farms on which thousands of people were dependent. In a significant setback to the firefighting operations, the fire that had been put out in surrounding dry forests of Concepcion after relentless firefighting has reignited. In addition to this, other fires continue to spread toward the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park.

As opposed to Brazil, most of the fires in Bolivia are limited to dry forests, ranches and farmland. 

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Is the government responsible for the disaster?

Due to drought and strong winds, the fire, started by farmers and ranchers to renew pastures and clear land, got out of control this year. The Bolivian government attributed the cause of drought to climate change. There have been accusations that the government was responsible for the disaster as it allowed slash and burn agricultural practices. The United States and Russia provided firefighter tanker planes to douse the fire. However, the efforts have proved to be insufficient to control the massive fire.

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Firefighters poorly equipped

According to reports, the Boeing supertanker 747, ordered by Bolivian President Evo Morales, is yet to reach the site for firefighting operations. The volunteers, soldiers, and the police contributing to the operations are exhausted and unable to carry the work continuously amid intense heat and smoke. The volunteer firefighters were poorly equipped to carry out the firefighting operations for a longer period. The force lacks heavy machinery that can clear debris and stop the fire from advancing.

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