Widespread wildland fires have been observed in Central America since several weeks (see our archive with daily updates on Central America in February 2000, particularly after 4 April 2000). The last satellite update is provided further down.
Today the GFMC received a fire emergency assistance request:
Help, Tikal National Park Under Severe Forest Fires (by Sofia Paredes Maury, Guatemala)
Tikal, an archaeological and natural reserve, with an area of 576 square kilometers inside the Maya Biosphere Reserve in southern Mesoamerica, is currently under severe forest fires. Although the authorities of Tikal National Park had an emergency plan ready for the dry season and have been part of the COE (Comite de Emergencia contra Incendios / Emergency Committee Against Forest Fires), the lack of enough equipment and personnel is causing almost a collapse.
The Administrator of the Park, the archaeologist, and biologists of the site are currently in a state of desperation. They have been coordinating, against the fires, the 44 employees of Tikal and several volunteers inside the rainforest. Almost since 13 April 2000, they have been eating once a day and sleeping around 4 hours per night. An extremely dry summer and unusual winds multiplied the 5 fires that were located inside the park (which I personally saw on 29 April 2000), to 10!!! Most of them were provoked by illegal hunters and xateros and are growing in size each hour.
Until now, Tikal has received the special assistance of a helicopter, two pilots, and one mechanic from TELMEX, the Mexican phone company, which has been carrying people, equipment, food, and water to the burning areas of the rainforest. Also, the National Army has been helping, but with a maximum of 30 soldiers, since others areas of the Peten are burning too and the army was distributed in all Peten. Representatives of institutions such as the Wildlife Conservation Soceity (WCS), INAB (Instituto Nacional de Bosques) and CONAP (Consejo Nacional de Areas Protegidas) are now being able to provide some help, because they were also fighting fires in other areas before.
Equipment is scarce, food and water are running out, and people are not enough any more. Please if there is anyone that can give Tikal a hand, we urgently need machetes, chain saws, camel back water containers and plenty of food and water. If there is any possibility of having volunteers, helicopters, and other basic equipment against fires, we will appreciate it very much. TIKAL DOESN’T NEED MONEY IN CASH, but equipment, people, and canned food and water.
If there is any possibility of sending any kind of help, please reply by or send a fax directly to:
Fig.1. NESDIS/OSEI NOAA-14 AVHRR satellite image, 11 May 2000.
Heat signatures (red) and smoke (light blue) are visible from numerous fires burning in Mexico and Guatemala.
Fig.2. NESDIS/OSEI NOAA-14 AVHRR satellite image, 11 May 2000.
Heat signatures (red) and smoke (light blue) are visible from numerous fires burning in Honduras and Nicaragua. Additional fires may be burning under the heavy cloud layers.