“We need to spread a massive message by all possible means: please stop setting [causing] fire. This fire is gigantic,” anxiously requests Marcia Gomez, a firefighter from the Las Delicias de Nandamojo brigade, on the coast of Santa Cruz.
She sends the message while taking a brief break from fighting the fire that she and the brigade have been battling since February 15, when the fire that now threatens Paraiso, Los Pargos, Avellanas and San Jose de Pinilla, on the coast of Santa Cruz, began.
On Sunday, the National Emergency Commission (CNE for the Spanish acronym) declared in orange alert Tempate and Cabo Velas, both in Santa Cruz, and Sardinal of Carrillo due to the severity of the forest fires.
“For five years, we’ve been working against fires and we’ve seen the patterns that these fires follow,” explained Gomez, a professional forestry engineer.
They generally come from the crossroads of 27 de Abril and run for weeks toward the coast, but this year, in just 11 days, those fires reached here, [the coast].”
The brigade knows the area well since they usually deal with incidents in the communities of 27 de Abril, Guapote, Rio Seco, Las Delicias, Paraiso, Junquillal Beach and Los Pargos. They occasionally also get involved with Cebadila, Caña Fistula and San Francisco.
As of February 26, the country reported a total of 30 forest fires and 82 hectares (202 acres) affected, according to data from the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC for the Spanish acronym).
Nineteen of those fires and 75 of those hectares (185 acres) have burned in the areas of Guanacaste (ACG), Tempisque (ACT) and Arenal Tempisque (ACAT).
The number of fires this year is almost triple what was reported in the same period of 2021, when there were 12 fires and 75 hectares devastated throughout the country by that date.
“Most of the fires are caused, which is why we make a vehement appeal to the population not to make fires and not to burn brush because the number of affected hectares increases due to the winds,” indicated the director of SINAC, Rafael Gutierrez.
The firefighter regrets that there are people who cause the fires with the intention of damaging the forests that have been reforested and preserved for years.
“We’re super scared with this. We haven’t been able to control it,” said Gomez. “Although the flames are low, they have a lot of energy and there’s a lot of heat in the environment.”
On Sunday, when the flames in that sector were already threatening homes, the brigade looked for a helicopter to spray water from the sky. “If we don’t succeed in putting it out, things are very serious for all of the inhabitants of the coast,” Gomez fears because the fires can reach homes.
The cost per hour for helicopter services is $3,000.
At this time, the CNE hasn’t requested support from the general population. The municipalities of Santa Cruz and Carrillo aren’t receiving aid either, confirmed their press officers, Francisco Mairena and Fatima Sing.
However, the Las Delicias fire brigade is requesting support, from economic donations to supplies, such as tools, hydration, food, clothing and with transportation tasks and collaboration in making rounds.
Of course, do not help with putting out fires on your own.
You can support the Las Delicias brigade through:
- Sinpe Movil: 8844-1986, under the name of Rosa Brenes.
- Paypal: [email protected]
- Banco Nacional
IBAN #: CR79015100920020071771
ID (Cedula): 3-002-699237
Name: Association for the Protection of the Nandamojo River Basin (Asociación Nandamojo)
- For more information on how to help the Las Delicias brigade, visit this link.