Ecuador on Alert over Forest Fires

Since June 1, 2012, Ecuadorian authorities have reported [es] 2,568 forest fires throughout the country.

As soon as the warning signal was given by citizens and authorities, the hashtag #incendiosforestales (forest fires) became a trending topic on Twitter in Ecuador, permitting the public to inform and share their points of view on the state of emergency in the country.

The newspaper El Comercio [es] transcribed the words of the mayor of Quito, Augusto Barrera, in an interview with GamaTV:

[…] el 99% de los incendios son provocados por las personas, no solo en Quito, sino en todo el callejón interandino, lo que se suma a otros tres componentes propios en estos meses que son: la temporada seca que según Barrera es una de las más graves de la historia, el nivel alto de radiación solar, y los fuertes vientos.

[…] 99% of the fires are caused by humans, not just in Quito, but also in the Inter-Andes corridor, which adds to the three other factors that are unique to these last few months, that is to say: the dry season (that according to Barrera, is one of the harshest in history); the high level of solar radiation; and strong winds.

Twitter users like Ricardo Rosero B. (@ricroserob) [es] show the severity of the forest fires in the city of Quito via images:

Photo of the forest fire near to SEK University. Photo shared by Twitter user @ricroserob

Martha Medranda A. (@martha_elena_m) [es] bemoans:

@martha_elena_m: Que tristeza que el verdor de las colinas que circundan Quito se tornen grises!!.. Emergencia!!.. #incendiosforestales

@martha_elena_m: How sad that the green hills that surround Quito have turned grey!!…Emergency!! #incendiosforestales

Meanwhile, Ramiro Benavides (@ramirobl2012) [es] tweets his point of view on the issue:

@ramirobl2012: No todos los #incendiosforestales son provocados. Hay hojarasca y basura que se enciende espontáneamente. Falta limpieza en los bosques.

@ramirobl2012: Not all the #incendiosforestales (forest fires) are provoked. There are dead leaves and garbage that catch on fire spontaneously. The forests need to be cleaned up.

David OSO Pérez (@maconhoso) [es] shares an image of the area called Carcelén, in the north of Quito, where the smoke almost impedes the view of the mountains:

Forest fire in Carcelen. Via @maconhoso

Through their Twitter account, the Quito Fire Department (@BomberosQuito) [es] has been keeping the public updated about the work that they are doing to fight the various forest fires, primarily in the areas of Panecillo, Angamarca, Balcones del Norte, San Bartolo, Terminal Quitumbe, Playa Chica, Zambiza y Pomasqui.

@BomberosQuito [es] is also calling for the public's attention and inviting citizens to report those who are identifiable as responsible for the forest fires:

@BomberosQuito: Denuncie e identifique a quienes provocan #incendiosforestales al siguiente número telefónico 2505560

@BomberosQuito: Report and identify those who cause #incendiosforestales (forest fires) call the following phone number 2505560

On the evening of September 11 Ecuavisa [es] reported:

Guayaquil será la primera ciudad del país con una división de bomberos especializada en incendios forestales. Por esta razón el Benemérito Cuerpo de Bomberos conformó este año una unidad especializada en este tipo de incendios. El equipo empezará sus operaciones en uno de los 43 carteles con los que cuenta la ciudad.

Guyaquil will be the first city in the country with a fire brigade that specializes in forest fires. For this reason, this year the Benemérito Body of Firemen formed a unit specializing in these types of fires. The team will launch its operations with one of the 43 groups they have in the city.

The Ministry of the Environment (MAE), the Secretary of Risk Management, Firemen, and communities have stepped up to the challenge of managing the situation so that it does not get out of control; according to the announcement made by the MAE [es] on its website, where it was stated that the situation is being analyzed for immediate response.

The Ministry of the Environment has also launched a national campaign called “Protect the Forests” to prevent fires that cause serious environmental damage:

The authorities continue to work from different parts of the country and alert [es] the public that they can report arsonists by calling ‘1 800 delito’. They are also appealing to the raising of public awareness via social networks with the hashtag #CuidemosLosBosques (Protect the Forests).

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