IFFN Recent Publications: O Megaincêndio do Século – 1998 <The Wildfire of the Century> (IFFN No. 22 – April 2000)


O Megaincêndio do Século – 1998
<The Wildfire of the Century>

(IFFN No. 22 – April 2000, p. 108-109)

This book describes one of the most severe environmental destructions, in a region of Brazil which normally is not subjected to large seasonal wildfires. What happened in the State of Roraima in March 1998 was caused primarily by the intense dryness of the region, a consequence of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon which caused climatic perturbations all over the globe. In addition, farmers and land owners were not careful enough and continued to practice traditional burnings after the clearing of forests, in spite of the obvious high wildfire risk and the prohibitions by the Federal Government. It is this situation that is described in this book.

The book starts with a general description of how most of the wildfires get started in Brazil. It also highlights the impact on the environment and the atmosphere. It is important to realize that Roraima is located outside of the area of Brazil where vegetation fires occur regularly – the cerrado (savanna) region in the center of the country. The 1998 wildfires of Roraim were a big surprise and a great exception. The geographic region of Roraima is described, calling attention to the fact that it is almost entirely situated in the Northern Hemisphere. Chapter 3 describes the meteorology of the region, including information on the climatic phenomenon El Niño. Chapter 4 describes the evolution of the fire event during its most critical phase. How it started and developed during the month of March. The physical damage caused by the wildfire is described, as well as the technical assessment of the size of the burnt area, and in Chapter 6 the heroes and villains of the episode are mentioned. The end of the huge fire is described in Chapter 7. The fire was extinguished not by the firemen, who despite their excellent performance were helpless in view of the magnitude of the fire disaster, but by the natural rains that started to fall by the end of March and beginning of April.

Kirchhoff, V.W.J., and P.A.S. Escada. 1998. O Megaincêndio do Século – 1998. The Wildfire of the Century. TRANSTEC Editorial, Sao José dos Campos, 86 pp. (ISBN 85-85417)

IFFN No. 22

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