Emergency declared on fires in region around Buenos Aires

The national emergency commission has declared an alert for the forested area around Buenos Aries de Puntarenas where two large fires have consumed up to 210 hectares, some 518 acres.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias took the action Saturday.

The blazes were in the area known as Olan and also Sabanas de Oca.  The commission said that the topographic and the type of vegetation made fighting the blazes difficult.

Involved in the effort were the Cuerpo de Bomberos, the Cruz Roja Costarricense, the Fuerza Pública, the Municipalidad de Buenos Aires, the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados and private firms.

The emergency agency noted that this is a critical period for forest fires because of the prolonged dry season and because in many areas there was below average rain in the last year. The agency said that the period of danger would extend until the first two months of May.

There also are many small blazes around the country that could become major ones.  Despite overcast skies some days, Semana Santa has seen about zero precipitation in most of the country.

However, some rain is expected for today mainly on the Caribbean coast with possible afternoon showers in the central mountains, said the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional.

The wind is expected to be mostly moderate but with some gusts. The weather institute reported gusts Sunday of up to 43 kph or about 27 mph.  The gusts are another problem for fire fighters.

Wind gusts already have been a factor in the death of one fire fighter. Fire officials said they believe that Andrés Cruz Castro, a music teacher with three children and a volunteer fireman, was trapped when a strong wind caused a covering of vegetation to burst into flame and generate thick smoke. That was at a blaze last week at Cerro Tárcoles en Turrubares.

Buenos Aries is in the southwestern part of the country inland from the Pacific coast.

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