Wildfire Crisis in Southern Belize Eases as Rains Arrive

Wildfire Crisis in Southern Belize Eases as Rains Arrive

The wildfire crisis in southern Belize has finally begun to subside. After weeks of battling destructive flames, residents in Toledo District are breathing a sigh of relief. Recent rains and firefighting efforts have resulted in most of the wildfires being extinguished, according to the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO). The disaster resulted in hundreds of farmers from over two dozen communities being affected, resulting in the government launching relief efforts. And, according to Prime Minister John Briceno, the Minister of Disaster Risk Management has also embarked on efforts to improve Belize’s response to tackling wildfires. 

Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “He is working on a new budget and despite everything I mean we can’t let the best be the enemy of the good and in the sense this issue about air support, air support, guys we don’t even own a helicopter and for us to be able to say we’re going to own a helicopter to be able to – let’s be realistic. What we’re looking is how we’re going to reorganize this whole firefighting forest fires how we’re going to fight them. And it has been from top to bottom and one of the ideas that – I always forget this young man’s name, highly qualified young man that studied in the United States about firefighting he’s in an NGO I think he’s the deputy chairman of APAMO and what he was saying we need to start from the community level to give them some sort of training and a little bit of equipment so that in most instances they can contain it. We also have to start to look at controlled burning, something that has not been done. That you burn your underbush or your forest not when it’s the hottest but when it is still damp a little bit so you could get rid of some of the debris so that if there is a fire it’s not going to be huge and as destructive as it was. We have to forget about looking at the movies and all kind of helicopters and having a thousand people, we have to work with what we have and I must thank publicly the BDF who they were out there for many many days helping us to fight these fires. Now we look at the rebuilding process and the Minister of Agriculture yesterday in Cabinet has already said they’re already reaching out to be able to provide seeds for farmers so that they can replant and get themselves back on their feet. We are working on a budget, once we have the budget obviously we’ll have to present a supplementary budget to be able to do this.”

The fires also left several families displaced.

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