Forest fires in Argentine Tierra del Fuego the worst ever
Authorities in the Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego Friday confirmed that over 10,000 hectares of land have already been consumed by forest fires, making the current episode the largest such catastrophe in the history of the province.
Most of the fires are concentrated around the village of Tolhuin, a town halfway between Río Grande and Ushuaia.
Although recent rainfalls have helped to control part of the forest fire, firefighters have reported the situation to still be extreme.
The fires, which started late in November and early this month, have damaged an area four times the surface of Ushuaia.
The National Vice-Minister of Environment, Sergio Federovisky, together with the Governor of Tierra del Fuego, Gustavo Melella, overflew the area to assess the seriousness of the situation.
The National Fire Management Service (SNMF) confirmed that there are two helicopters with firefighting equipment and three hydrant airplanes operating in the area. At the same time, 85 firefighters and technical and logistic support personnel from the Southern National Brigade, the National Parks Administration, the Central National Brigade, and the province of Córdoba, summoned by the SNMF, together with provincial personnel, are working in the area.
The Argentine Federal Police also provided support with a fire truck. In addition to all this, technical support was provided with weather forecasts for planning purposes. We have air resources available in reserve in case it is necessary to incorporate them, Federovisky said.
Although there are various theories as to the origin of the fire, a badly extinguished bonfire seems to be the most plausible of them all.
In this scenario, a group of firefighters from the El Bolsón National South Brigade have gone on strike over unpaid wages, Clarín reported. The team had been fighting the forest fire in Tolhuin, Tierra del Fuego, for 12 days, but halted work Friday for 24 hours urging the Environment Ministry to pay their salaries.