Forest fire continues in western Cuba

Forest fire continues in western Cuba

7 May 2006

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Pinar del Río, Cuba —  A blaze that erupted on Friday had so far affected 600 hectares of forest in western Cuba, the forest fire brigade said on Sunday.

The brigade, along with forest workers, local volunteers and the air force, was still fighting the fire in the Caguazal region in the western province of Pinar del Rio.

More than 1,000 people were cutting paths through the forest to halt the spread of the flames, while small aircraft and helicopters were dousing water on the fire in areas which is hard to access.

Authorities had not explained how the fire started, but said the drought, the worst in 105 years, had increased the risk of a serious forest fire.

Pinar del Rio has been hit by 686 forest fires over the last 10 years, 45 percent of which began in May. Some 17,600 hectares of forest have been damaged.

Since the beginning of this year, a total of 254 fires have hit the region, damaging nearly 5,300 hectares of forest.


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