The Cesar department authorities announced that the territory is on alert since several forest fires have been registered in the last week. This phenomenon has already devastated approximately 5,000 hectares of forest that is part of the lands of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Serranía del Perijá, that are in Cesarean jurisdiction. So far the causes for which the fires have started are unknown, but the most likely hypothesis is that it is due to the high temperatures that are being experienced lately in the territory.

The Cesar Office for Risk Management and Climate Change is already at the forefront of the situation and assured that activated a Unified Command Post (PMU) to join forces with other government offices and entities to help control the fire. It is reported that for now the process is supported by the Valledupar Volunteer Fire Department, the Colombian Air Force (FAC), the National Army, the Civil Defense and the Red Cross.

The fire in the Sierra Nevada is one of those that most worries the authorities, since it is already fully active for more than 48 hours. Specifically, the event would be occurring in the upper part of the San José village, located in the northwestern part of the Guatapurí (Valledupar) district. This is an area with difficult access, so controlling the fire has become more complex.

The Risk Management office pointed out that, to control the situation it is necessary to use means of air transport. Since March 3, the FAC has been requested to support a Bambi Bucket helicopter, characterized by having a giant basket capable of unloading between 420 and 660 gallons of water from above and in a controlled manner. Apparently that particular request was not answered, but the force will lend another type of helicopter to put out the fire.

“An Air Force UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter will depart from the water reservoir of the Engineers Battalion that will reach the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, near the Guatapurí district, in the south of Valledupar, with a flight plan that will allow let the fires be put out “, explained Carlos Daza, head of the Cesar Risk Management Office.

The authorities hope to control the situation soon and thus stop the negative effects of this phenomenon that is affecting the flora, fauna and water bodies of the Sierra. In addition, this fact produces toxic gases for the surrounding communities, not to mention that in the long term it accelerates the greenhouse effect phenomenon.

As for the fire in the vicinity of the Serranía del Perijá, this was reported in the jurisdiction of Codazzi and Becerril. Access to these two municipalities has been easier, since most of the conflagration occurs in flat areas, so the authorities have been able to control the flames.

“The Fire Brigade has moved to the flat areas where we have been able to have access and thus control the fires. They have been presented in rural territories and also in mountainous areas where support is needed not only from our units, but also from the Air Force and the military to serve those areas where displacement is complicated “said Omar Prieto, commander of the relief agency in Valledupar.

It should be remembered that, in recent days, the high temperatures, the speed of the winds and the low levels of humidity managed to start at least two other conflagrations in two different areas of the department.

One of them happened on the sidewalk La Guitarra, attached to the town of Aguas Blancas, belonging to the municipality of Valledupar. In that area, 15 properties were affected, which together add up to at least 150 hectares of vegetation cover. The other fire was reported in a farm known as ‘El Zanjón’, located on the road that leads to the township of Valencia de Jesús, which is also under the jurisdiction of the capital of Cesarean.

The authorities made a Call to the community so that as soon as they detect an outbreak of fire, they report it before the competent entities, to avoid greater risks. These situations can be reported through the emergency lines of the Fire Department, 119; the single number for security and emergencies (Nuse) of the Police, 123: the Red Cross, 132; the Civil Defense, 144; and the Traffic and Transportation Police, # 767.

Likewise, and although no fires caused by the community have been reported so far, authorities warn that burning land can have legal consequences.

“People who do this type of practice should know that the Police and Coexistence Code provides very specific sanctions for this type of conduct. Article 101 talks about burning and behaviors that affect species of wild flora or fauna, so it is best to refrain from doing so “, recalled the Mayor of Valledupar.

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