Since Thursday, April 24th, 2020, two AT-802 aircraft from the Colombian National Police managed by the UNGRD have been fighting forest fires occurring in the rural area of Valledupar dropping more than 12,700 gallons of water and retardant.
Multiple other agencies including Fire, Civil Defense, and the Municipal Risk Management Council worked to bring the fire under control over the last week. Authorities in the area now reporting that the fire is 90% controlled according to the National Fire Department. Months of drought in the region, together with the strong winds, have contributed to the start of forest fires, several of which have been in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta area, which due to the sloping topography caused difficulty in controlling the fire without aerial support. This led to the local Cesar Police Department requesting the support of the National Police air service.
Two AT-802 tankers under the command of Columbia’s Anti-Narcotics Directorate Air Service, that are configured for aerial firefighting and capable of dropping 800 gallons each based at the Alfonso López de Valledupar airport were dispatched to fight the fire said General Oscar Atehortúa, Director General of the National Police. From the time the aircraft arrived on-site, coordinated fire attacks were directed by Valledupar’s Fire and Government Risk Management personnel, taking only 48 hours to extinguish the blaze that threatened indigenous communities, as well as flora and fauna native to the region.
“The two aircraft will continue working to attack the most difficult points of the fires in the mountains, with which we seek to save the flora and fauna and protect the communities that live there,” said Colonel Jesús Manuel de los Reyes Valencia, Commander Department Cesar Police.
Regarding the other fires that are active, the Municipal and Departmental Risk Management Councils will continue to coordinate response in the area. The National Unit for Risk Management will conduct follow-up and monitoring of the area should flare-ups occur.
Since January 1, 1080 vegetation fires have been reported in Columbia over 431 municipalities, of which 1071 have been extinguished, 8 remain active, while one is marked as controlled. Much of Columbia with the onset of warmer weather remains on high alert for dangerous fire conditions according to Columbia’s IDEAM, stating that the regions of Atlántico, Bolívar, Cesar, Córdoba, La Guajira, Magdalena, and Sucre remain in red alert status for fires in the Caribbean region.
This story was originally posted in by Columbian Security Forces here.