Ethiopia deploys 70,000 people to fightforest fire
Source: Reuters Date: March 9, 2000
ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia said yesterday it had deployed some 70,000 people to fight a raging forest fire in the south of the country but international assistance was still needed. Kuma Demeksa, head of a government committee set up to deal with the blaze, said soldiers, local farmers and university students had been mobilised to tackle the fire. But he said international help was still required to provide aerial support to fight the three-week-old fire which has already destroyed at least 70,000 hectares of forest, scrub and coffee plantations. An international firefighting team which has flown over the affected area said on Tuesday helicopter crews were needed to bomb the fires with water. Johann Goldammer of the Global Fire Monitoring Centre said $30,000 in funding and other logistical support was needed for the first phase of the operation. Conservationists say the fire is now approaching the Bale Mountains National Park, home to several of the world’s rarest mammal species including the Simien Fox, Mountain Nyala and Menelik’s Bushbuck. The fires are thought to have been started by farmers clearing forest for cultivation, or honey collectors smoking out bees in areas dried out by drought. Hot, gusty winds have helped the fires take hold.