Strong winds and unusually high temperatures have reignited wildfires in Patagonia that have devastated huge swaths of forest in the remote region of Argentina.
And with temperatures rising, firefighters have been deployed across Argentina to battle raging wildfires in nine of the country’s 23 provinces, including one blaze that has been active for more than a month.
Nearly 100 firefighters and support personnel, reinforced by planes and helicopters, were battling the largest of the blazes in Nahuel Huapi National Park in Patagonia, the fire management service (SNMF) said.
The park is located near the tourist town of Bariloche, about 1,500 kilometers southwest of Buenos Aires.
“This is one of the most serious fires we have had in the region,” SNMF director of operations Lorena Ojeda told AFP.
She spoke at the scene of the fire, which was started by a lightning strike on December 6.
Smoke from the flames prompted authorities to close part of Argentina’s National Route 40, the country’s longest highway that connects northern and southern Argentina through the Andes Mountains.
Temperatures range from 35 to 40 degrees Celsius, but have increased further.
The heat and wind “are contributing to the continued spread of the fire”, with weather forecasts indicating that there “may not be enough precipitation” to stop it, Ojeda said.
About 5,900 hectares of native Andean forest were affected.