MEXICO CITY – The forest fire that started in mid-March in Coahuila, a state in northern Mexico, has scorched nearly 200,000 hectares (493,827 acres), the Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat said.
“Control and extinguishment work is being supported by aircraft, including planes from Canada that are now operating, with the focus being on fighting the fire in the most rugged and hard to reach areas,” the secretariat said.
The majority of the land scorched by the fire has been desert shrubs and pastures, with few forests affected, environmental officials said.
Environment Secretary Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada traveled to the fire zone on Tuesday and flew over the most affected areas.
He later met with the firefighters, Federal Police officers and other personnel battling the blaze in Coahuila.
The area of land scorched by the fire “has already reached 193,000 hectares,” the environment secretary said.
No victims have been reported and firefighters have also not found “animals that died because of the fire ... in the different places that they have reached,” the secretariat said.
Officials from the Profepa federal environmental protection agency and the Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat’s National Wildlife Administration will evaluate the situation and determine the steps to be taken to restore the affected areas once animals return to their habitat.
Over the weekend, two U.S. Air Force planes started dropping water on the wildfire in Coahuila.
The C-130 Hercules planes “began the work of dropping water and non-toxic fire retardant substances” on Sunday morning in Coahuila, where the blaze is burning on several fronts, the secretariat said.
Mexican and U.S. planes are providing support to some 1,500 National Forestry Commission, or Conafor, and Environment Secretariat personnel on the ground.
“The planes began dropping non-toxic retardants, concentrating on the fire in El Bonito,” an area where it has proven difficult to fight the blaze, the secretariat said.
The fire, which is about 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of the Texas border, is burning around the cities of Acuña, Arteaga, Muzquiz and Ocampo, the secretariat said.
Elvira Quesada flew from Coahuila to the Caribbean state of Quintana Roo “to oversee the situation in the Sian Kaan, Uaymil and Majahual (natural) areas,” which have also been affected by fires, the Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat said.
The fires in Quintana Roo started nearly two weeks ago. EFE