Colombia’s national government on Saturday declared the area around Villa de Leyva a disaster area as wildfires threatened the Boyaca town and surrounding villages.
According to the country’s Environment Minister Carlos Costa, the fires are some of the biggest that have occurred in Colombia over the past month and require urgent measures to prevent them posing a danger to the inhabitants of the region.
So far, the fires around Villa de Leyva torched more than 1,200 hectares of forest.
The mayor of the town told media that the fires are the result of “criminals,” and are hard to keep under control because of strong winds that blow through the valley that the town is situated in.
A total of 450 people, including firefighters, soldiers, policemen and members of the Red Cross are in the area providing assistance.
Forest fires, a result of an extremely hot and dry season, have consumed 20,000 hectares of land in Colombia over the past two months.