Authorities say 28,000 people have been affected by the forest fires south of Bogota over the last few days.
Emergency services have been out in force, attempting to halt the spread of the raging fires which have already damaged over 350 hectares of countryside and are now sweeping the south-eastern outskirts of the Colombian capital, Bogota, reported El Espectador Tuesday.
According to the governor of Cundinamarca, Andres Gonzalez, the region has declared an orange emergency alert as the fires have affected 37 municipalities. This indicates a state of general emergency, demanding faster action and more manpower to combat the fire.
Mauricio Toro, head of the Bogota Fire Department, claimed that the fires were spreading through the upper branches of trees, steadily consuming vegetation. Toro expected the arrival of Colombian air force helicopters within the coming hours to help suffocate the flames.
In addition to the six fires that occurred last Sunday, five of which were brought under control by firemen by Monday afternoon, three more have begun. Toro stated that the flames had spread largely due to people’s carelessness – lighting fires where they should not, throwing cigarette butts, or cooking outdoors can all be risky.
Toro reiterated his advice to citizens to remain calm but constantly vigilant, and report any untoward events to the relevant authorities.