MEXICO CITY – The fires that have plagued the Huasteca Potosina region in the north-central Mexican state of San Luis Potosi for the past week may have burned up to 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) of crop- and grassland, the technical secretary for the state government, Jose Guadalupe Torres Armenta, said Tuesday.
In a communique, the state government reported that two people – one of whom has already been arrested – have been identified as suspects in the fire near the town of Lagunillas.
The fires, which broke out a week ago in the state, have taken one life – a woman who died of smoke inhalation – and the efforts of more than 600 firefighters and four helicopters have been required to contain them.
The state official said that so far the fires “that occurred in the towns of Ciudad Valles, Lagunillas, Rayon, Rioverde, Tamasopo and Tamazunchale, which are calculated to have affected 10,000 hectares are already under control.”
The state government said that there has been no damage to tourist areas, adding that anyone wanting to visit San Luis Potosi, may do so “without any risk.”
“Currently, the situation is in a second phase, which is one of prevention and monitoring to prevent more fires from occurring,” the official statement said.
The municipalities most seriously affected by the fires that began on March 19 have been Lagunillas, Santa Catarina, Ciudad Valles, Tamasopo, Tampacan and Tamazunchale.
Most of the fires are thought to have been set by sugar cane farmers who wanted to burn the stubble in their fields so that they could replant, but due to the wind the fires got out of control.
A lack of rain across at least 27 municipalities in the state has also helped create conditions favorable for the outbreak of the fires. EFE