Drought causes thousands of wildfires in Cuba

13:45, March 25, 2010      

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A thousand forest fires burnt through Cuba in the first quarter of 2010 alone, Lt. Col. Sergio Zubizarreta, deputy chief of the Cuban fire department, said Wednesday.

Zubizarreta said the fires were mainly caused by draught in the dry season which usually runs from February to May.

Besides, reckless pasture burning, driving cars without spark arrestors and large amount of combustible materials and fallen trees amassed after hurricanes in 2008 were also causes of wildfires.

Areas at high risk of being affected by fires are the eastern provinces of Las Tunas and Camaguey, the western province of Pinar del Rio and the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud.

According to officials of the Cuban national forest ranger corps, some 437 fires were reported from January to May 2009, some 80 percent of which were caused by negligent behaviors.

The fire department has pledged to improve the fire emergency and rescue system at a time the country is developing a risk reduction mechanism.

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