Bogota’s fire department, in a joint operation with the Civil Defense and Aviation authorities, managed to extinguish five of the six fires that threatened the south-eastern outskirts of the Colombian capital.
The operation was launched over the weekend following calls for assistance made by residents of the area, reported Colombian media Sunday.
According to local residents, heavy smoke, visible from the surrounding neighborhoods, is continuing to cause respiratory difficulties and has forced people to seek the help of the authorities.
The Fire Department spokesmen claimed that nearly 4,000 gallons of water were used to meet this emergency and the situation has been brought under control, though there are still areas which have yet to be totally extinguished.
Following local claims that the fires were ignited on purpose, the environment minister, Carlos Costa, said that the penalties for those who cause fires could include fines of up to five thousand times their wage, as well as the possibility of being sent to prison.
Costa stated that camper and hikers should avoid building fires, as these are the primary causes of forest fires. “They should not throw cigarette butts away, and should be alert, because the best way to stop a fire in time is to report it early enough,” stressed the minister.
Costo concluded by emphasizing the need for Colombians to be aware of fire risk in the coming summer as environmentalists predict that it will be particularly intense.