Heat wave causes wildfires to rage in Bogotá’s Cerros Orientales

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A large wildfire is blazing in the Cerros Orientales of Bogotá. Photo: Bomberos de Bogotá

In the wake of an unrelenting heat wave gripping Bogotá, a spate of wildfires has ignited in the Cerros Orientales, casting a smoky pall over the Colombian capital. A fire in the southern locality of Usme is also blazing, stemming from weeks of elevated temperatures that have affected the Eastern Cordillera of the Andes.

The most significant outbreak, erupting on Monday morning above Calle 66 and Avenida Circunvalar in Chapinero, has forced local authorities to mobilize firefighting contingents from different localities of the city, including those stationed in the Historic Center, Puente Aranda and Kennedy.

Attributed to the El Niño phenomenon, the fires in Usme and Chapinero are an auspicious spectacle, with social media inundated with images capturing billowing columns of smoke. The Bogotá fires come as both Medellín and the department of Santander, are grappling with severe forest fires.

Bogotá’s firefighting units, bolstered by the Forest Brigade, are engaged in a five-hour battle to bring the rampant fires under control. The deployment of drones by the specialized SART Team aids in monitoring the affected terrain, offers critical insights into the evolving situation in the rugged hills. Fidel Medina, the commander of the Bogotá Fire Department, remarked, “We are actively combating the fire, but as of now, complete control remains elusive.” The eastern hills currently host around 80 emergency responders, including personnel from the Army, Police, and Aqueduct, all united in their efforts to quell the wildfire.

Authorities have implemented strict measures to mitigate the impact of the flames, prioritizing the safety of the nearby population, comprising residents, workers, and students from schools and universities. As the situation continues to unfold, efforts are underway to regain control and stave off an environmental catastrophe in this endangered green belt that flanks the eastern ridge of the capital. The emergency has also triggered a heightened state of vigilance among residents in proximity to the Circunvalar in Bogotá.