Colombia’s Ministry of the Interior says that the mayor’s office was negligent in not having a fire department to fight the blaze that destroyed at least 60 houses and left some 100 families homeless, in the town of Riosucio, in the north-west Choco department.
The director of the Ministry of the Interior’s Risk Management sector, Luz Amanda Pulido, said that all mayor’s offices are required by law to form a group of emergency fire fighters that are trained to respond to a fire and stop it from spreading.
“We understand that budgets are limited, but this training doesn’t cost a peso. The national government provides training to those that express interest,” said Pulido.
The risk management director called on all mayors in Colombia to form emergency fire fighting groups, in order to prevent more situations like that which occured in Riosucio on Saturday night.
According to the reports, the Riosucio fire broke out around 7:30PM on Saturday and grew rapidly because the wooden houses in the poor neighborhood caught fire easily.
Local authorities were forced to call in assistance from fire departments from the neighboring Antioquia department because they had no emergency teams available.
A Colombian air force airplane transported six tons of aid to the Riosucio community, providing them with food, clothes, mattresses and toiletries. Local police and the Red Cross helped to distribute the aid.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has announced a reconstruction plan for the zone devestated by the blaze, which left more than 100 families were left homeless. The head of State also said a “bank” will be created where materials and goods can be deposited for those who lost eveything to the fire.
According to a preliminary report by the local fire department, the fire started in the local bar and almost immediately jumped to neighboring buildings.
There were no reports of injuries.