June 12, 2021

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It is urgent to raise awareness about the danger of forest fires

Wildfire season begins in February and runs through August

Photo: USFWS Pacific / Visualhunt

San Juan – The secretary of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER), Rafael Machargo Maldonado on Monday urged citizens to raise awareness about the importance of forests and collaborate to reduce all flammable material that can cause natural or accidental fires in the reserves and forests of our island.

“Taking into consideration the safety of citizens and the conservation of our wooded areas, we urge all our visitors to follow the established rules to avoid incidents that could threaten life, property and the ecosystems of our Island,” he mentioned. Machargo Maldonado in written communication.

The forest fire season begins in February and lasts until August according to the weather conditions of Puerto Rico.

These fires are started or spread due to various factors, such as: low percent relative humidity, high temperatures, wind, fuel availability (dry leaves, branches, trees, grass) and global warming.

Precisely this Monday a fire of great proportions in a field near the Tortuguero Lagoon, in Vega Baja. Firefighters, state and municipal Emergency Management personnel, work on the situation. At the moment, no injuries are reported.

“In the DRNA we have a unit of Forest Firefighters, attached to the Emergency Management Division, trained to fight forest fires. Your primary responsibility is to carry out fire suppression missions in the areas under our jurisdiction. We also remind the public that setting fires is a crime, “said the secretary.

To this end, and in order to prevent the Guánica Dry Forest from suffering further damage due to forest fires, the DRNA’s Forest Firefighters Unit, together with Protectores de Cuenca, are carrying out fire prevention lines throughout off the PR-333 towards Playa Tamarindo in Guánica.

“The fire prevention lines are trenches 3 to 4 feet wide, without a vegetative layer, to prevent the fire from spreading easily within the Forest. The works will be carried out on January 25 and 26; and February 1 and 2, so we ask citizens to be patient when traveling on this highway, because our staff will be working with equipment that could affect normal traffic flow, “said Machargo Maldonado.

The Forest Firefighters unit of the DRNA encourages citizens to collaborate by following the following measures for the prevention of forest fires:

  • Put out matches and cigarettes well; never throw them on the ground or out of the car window.
  • Do not carry or leave flammable materials in the woods (coal, bottles, etc.).
  • Do not barbecue or cook outside of designated areas. At the end of a campfire, put it out by adding water and earth.
  • Inform and educate others about wildfire prevention.

To report any emergency you must call 9-1-1.

The Forest Fire Department is ready to attend any emergency in direct coordination with the Bureau for Emergency Management and Disaster Administration (NMEAD) and the Bureau of the Fire Department.

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