Widespread alert declared over possibility of fires

Firemen were limited to what they could carry to fight this blaze in Parque Santa Rosa. Photo: Cuerpo de Bomberos

The national emergency commission declared a fire alert Friday in three provinces and 20 cantons, many of them in the Central Valley. The commission said that Guanacaste was the region with the highest probability of field and forest fires. It said that low humidity, higher temperatures and strong winds typical of the season encouraged such fires.

The alert covers Paquera, Lepanto and Cóbano, Garabito, Esparza and Montes de Oro in Puntarenas province.

In Alajuela the affected cantons are Upala, Los Chiles, Orotina, San Mateo, Atenas, Naranjo, Palmares and San Ramón,

In the province of San José the cantons are Escazú, Santa Ana, Mora (Ciudad Colón), Puriscal, Acosta, Aserrí, Alajuelita, Desamparados, Dota, León Cortes and Tarrazú.

Costa Rican firemen have been called eight times to what they believe are set fires on Cerro Espiritu Santo in Naranjo.

That was the report Thursday from the Cuerpo de Bomberos. The fires have attracted attention from expats living miles away and a photo Wednesday showed two blazes raging. There are blazes nearly every night, one expat said.
A fire department spokesman was clear that the blazes were intentional. This was the first report of the incidents from the firemen, and there have been no reports from police.

Another blaze has been controlled in Cerro el Hachal in Parque Santa Rosa, Guanacaste. The fire was in an area where firemen had to enter on foot because there were no trails for trucks. About 51 hectares were consumed, said firemen. That is about 126 acres.

The blaze began Tuesday. Firemen from La Cruz, Nicoya, Liberia, el Roble and Esparza responded to work with fire crews from the Área de Conservación Guanacaste.

The fire was declared controlled Thursday, but firemen still were extinguishing hot spots.

The tropical dry forest had not seen a fire for 25 years, said firemen.

In 2010 there were 386 hectares (954 acres) burned by fires in lands managed by the Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones. Already in 2011 some 95 hectares (235 acres) have been burned, said firemen, and that number does not include the blazes in the Naranjo area.

Although some forest fires come from natural causes like lightning, hikers and poachers start many.

In the case of Naranjo, neighbors consider that there is some overriding strategy to the blazes there.

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