Argentina is on fire. For weeks, firefighters have battled the flames that have burned some 800,000 hectares in total, with about 30,000 hectares burning each day, Al Jazeera has reported.
Wildfires are on the rise worldwide as fire seasons start earlier and last longer. Frequently occurring droughts and hotter heat waves are also reaching more populations, which means fires like the one currently spreading in Argentina are expected to become more frequent within just the next few years.
According to a report from the United Nations, extreme fires could possibly rise by almost 15 per cent by 2030, and by about 30 per cent by 2050. The frequency of fires could increase as much as 50 per cent by the end of this century, the report said.
Here are some facts and photos of the quickly spreading fire currently raging in Argentina.
The long-lasting fire has devastated nearly 10 per cent of the northern province of Corrientes. The flames have reportedly destroyed farms, pastures, swamps, and wildlife habitats in the country’s northern region. Argentinian officials think the region may need years to fully recover from this disaster.
Agriculture Takes a Hit
Corrientes is dependent on agriculture. The wildfire has burned down important crops like the plant used for the national yerba mate drink, fruits, and rice fields. Losses as a result of the wildfires have exceeded 25 billion Argentine pesos, or more than $US200 million, according to CBC News.
Argentinian firefighters are exhausted after battling the fires, so backup is being sent from other parts of the country along with firefighting units from nearby countries like Bolivia and Brazil, Al Jazeera reported.
Too Close for Comfort
The wildfires have burned near the Iberá National Park, which is one of the largest wetlands in the world. It is home to more than a quarter of Argentina’s flora and fauna, including local endangered species like the giant anteater and pampas deer.
Dry Weather to Blame
The current wildfires have been caused by ongoing drought, low humidity, and almost no rainfall. However, it did rain in Argentina this past weekend, and firefighters hope that future rain could bring some respite from the fires to the area.