Some 135 Colombian municipalities have been affected by wildfires caused in part by the “La Niña” phenomena, which has caused a wave of heat and draught in large parts of the country, reported newspaper El Espectador.
The fires have taken place in natural reserves, cultivated fields, villages and even in major urban centers like Colombia’s third largest city, Cali. More than 17,500 hectares have been affected throughout 2012.
The director of the government agency in charge of disaster prevention, Carlos Ivan Marquez Perez, said to El Espectador that it was important to stay informed of warnings from regional governments and the emergency plans in the areas at risk for potential wildfires.
Perez also encouraged people to not start campfires in forests and to avoid throwing lit cigarettes on the ground. He also warned that farmers burning their crops could cause uncontrolled fires.
Municipalities in the departments of Antioquia, Boyaca, Meta, Cundinamarca, Tolima, Cesar, Casanare, Caqueta, Norte de Santander, Guaviare, Santander, Guajira, Valle del Cauca, Cordoba, Risaralda, Arauca, Guaviare, Magdalena, Sucre and Nariño, have been affected by the wildfires that, although not as grave as in previous years, have caused significant damage to the ecosystem.
Historically Colombia has tended to suffer the higher land temperatures and extended draughts throughout the duration of the “Niña” phenomena.