Argentina —Spreads rapidly into residential area, authorities say
A forest fire ravaged through Río Negro provinces main tourist attraction, Bariloche city, yesterday afternoon, spreading rapidly into a residential neighbourhood and causing hundreds of residents to evacuate as 300 members of various organizations as well as volunteer citizens tried to combat the fire.
The fire has burnt several blocks between Salta, Tucumán and 24 of September streets. Several firefighters, forest rangers and various organizations with the help from their neighbours managed to control the spread of fire at around 6pm, and assisted an estimated 100 people who suffered from respiratory problems after they had inhaled smoke. At least six injuried have been reported.
So far, it was estimated that that 10 buildings have been burnt to the ground, as the fire continues to threaten homes and hotels the windy day has made it difficult for firefighters to extinguish the fire. Aerial fire-fighting equipment was used to put out the flames but the smoke blowing from the site and the exuberant vegetation made the task more difficult.
Although the firefighters said that the fire was under control, it was still affecting five to six hectares at press time. Civil defence authorities described the blaze as contained but not controlled.
The fire had begun at 3pm on Kilometre 1 on Bustillo avenue in an abandoned house close to San Carlos Hospital but it began to spread due to a strong wind blowing toward the west. In minutes it advanced, moving from tree to tree, and surrounded the medical centre, rising up Salta street to the neighbourhood close to Mount Rungen.
The Chubut fire which has raged for the past two weeks separate from the Bariloche outbreak was reported to have burnt 30,000 hectares of forest so far as it continues to spread. Over 450 firefighters, civil defence personnel and volunteer citizens are combatting the fire.
Several of the fires are believed to have been intentionally caused, according to Governor Martín Buzzi.
There are five fires and we can say that the Lake Puelo one is intentional, as well as Lake Currumahuida. We conducted raids and found two motorcycles used to start the fires. Firefighters are working to put them out and confirm the cause, said Buzzi.