Mexico — The number of firefighters battling a blaze that has scorched 14,000 hectares (34,568 acres) in the Acuña, Muzquiz and Ocampo mountain areas of the northern Mexican state of Coahuila will be increased to more than 800, Environment Secretary Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada said.
The fire, which started in mid-March, does not threaten any populated areas, Elvira Quesada told RadioFormula after flying over the region on Tuesday.
The closest town to the fire zone is Piedras Negras, located across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas.
Four helicopters, 500 firefighters, National Forestry Commission, or Conafor, personnel, army troops, Coahuila state workers, municipal employees and volunteers are trying to fight the fire on three fronts.
The fire threatens the El Bonito ranch, where several endangered species, including black bears, live, Elvira Quesada said.
The fire was started by lightning on March 14 and has killed some cattle, wild boars and turkeys.
“Since this area in Coahuila had temperatures of up to 12 and 14 degrees below zero, it caused a lot of grass, dead leaves and bushes to dry up, and the presence of a storm with winds between 10 and 35 kilometers per hour, it generated a dangerous fire,” Elvira Quesada said.
Fires had been reported in the same area, which has thin pine forests, in the past six years, the environment secretary said.
“It’ll be necessary to have another 300 workers (in addition to the 500 already deployed in the area)” to fight the fire, Elvira Quesada said.
The terrain where the fire is burning is rough, featuring ravines that drop up to 60 meters and 80 meters (197 feet and 262 feet), Elvira Quesada said.
Coahuila Gov. Jorge Torres Lopez deployed state workers to fight the fire without waiting for the federal government to mobilize its resources.
The biggest deployment of firefighting personnel in Mexico occurred last year, when 850 people fought a blaze that scorched 40,000 hectares (98,765 acres) in the Caribbean state of Quintana Roo, the Environment Secretariat said.