The metropolitan area was once more blanketed in smoke and ash in the past week, as firefighters from various agencies battled several fires raging in the protected wooded area to the west of the city, often described as Guadalajara’s “lung.”
With another month of dry, hot weather to endure, the Primavera Forest has racked up more fires this year – 47 – than during the entirety of 2018.
According to Primavera administrators, 37 fires were recorded during 2018, with just over 3,000 hectares affected.
Despite the higher number of incidents in 2019, up until this weekend only 1,500 hectares of the forest had been affected.
Marciano Valtierra, director of the Decentralized Public Organizm(OPD) that administers the Primavera, puts these numbers down to “greater coordination and reactive capacity to attend to fires.”
However, last weekend’s big fire scorched around 1,800 hectares of the forest, according to Zapopan Mayor Pablo Lemus, and changed these statistics dramatically.
Following the incident, which prompted several schools not to open their doors on Monday morning, Lemus called for public access to the Primavera Forest to be restricted until the start of the rainy season.
Authorities responded Wednesday by closing off the Avenida Mariano Otero entrance to the forest, one of the main access points for the general public.
Lemus said chief among several theories as to how last weekend’s blaze started is that it was caused by a careless family cooking up a barbecue of carne asada in the woods.
Lemus also criticized the federal government’s response to the fires in his municipality, saying they have yet to contribute “a centavo” to the firefighting effort.
Mexico on fire
At any one time this week, firefighters were tackling around 80 forest fires across Mexico. Dozens of fires raged in the valley where Mexico City is located, prompting air contamination alerts and warnings for residents to stay indoors. The Liga Mx soccer semi-final between Club America and Leon was postponed and moved to Querertero on Thursday.
According to the Comisión Nacional Forestal (Conafor), forest fires raged from the states of Yucatan and Chiapas in the south, as far as Durango in the north.
The blazes also affected several important biosphere reserves, including La Sepultura in Chiapas, Bala’an K’aax in the Yucatan and the Sierra Gorda in Querétaro, as well as the Parque Nacional Barranca del Cupatitzio in Uruapan, Michoacán.