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BENQUE FIRE  3

GOB and residents work together to extinguish forest fires in the west

Residents in Belmopan and surrounding areas are perhaps the most affected by the recent fires.  For over a week now they have been complaining of their homes being inundated with smoke and difficulties breathing. 

Residents in Belmopan and surrounding areas are perhaps the most affected by the recent fires.  For over a week now they have been complaining of their homes being inundated with smoke and difficulties breathing.  Yesterday, Love News spoke with the Chief Executive Officer for the Department of the Environment, Percival Cho, who told us that they were pursuing aerial support in containing the fires.  Our Cayo Correspondent, Fem Cruz was on the ground just before midday today as persons were being deployed to the various areas and the aerial support was getting ready for take-off.

Fem Cruz, Cayo Correspondent: Residents of Belmopan and surrounding villages have been complaining ever since the dry season started about the burning of wildfires in their area. Today the Ministry of the Environment held a firefighting initiative to help eliminate the spread of wild fires. Percival Cho the CEO for the Ministry explains.

Percival Cho, CEO, Ministry of the Environment: “What we’re doing out here today is to address the smoke situation around Belmopan by throwing a lot of water from the air on top of the smoldering fires. Why that is necessary well yesterday you saw the smokey conditions really the weather conditions aren’t helping either, it’s really dry and hot so yesterday we looked at the situation we analyzed the possibility of using the aircraft and so Protected Areas Conservation Trust , the directors discussed the possibility of supporting this initiative and decided that it’s a worthy option for them to support. It makes sense and they obviously want to help the community as an organization and so they invested in procuring the services of Air Max which is a company out of Spanish Lookout to do the aerial firefighting for us today. We’re dealing with Belmopan at the moment testing the equipment and it seems to be working very well in the high forested conditions here and so right now we’re moving out west to the Vaca region to fight the fires around Benque and we’re getting a second plane since we know that it works, we’re getting a second plane to really boost the effort out west.”

As CEO Cho mentioned, they were about to deploy a team further west to Benque Viejo del Carmen, Cayo District.  Residents in that are being severely impacted especially over the last four days as the fires have worsened.  Reporter Naim Borges is on the ground and spoke to one of the residents who have been leading a bucket brigade initiative since Friday.

By mid-afternoon the aerial support was in action, flying above and releasing water on the burning bushes.////]