A forest fire in the Cusco region, in the southern highlands of Peru, has left eight dead and around 35 injured, after the fire broke out on Thursday between two districts with extensive forest coverage in the province of Quispicanchi.
The fire apparently started due to the carelessness of a villager who tried to cook with stones in the field, although local authorities also warned that at this time of year, farmers often burn remains of plantations to return to cultivate in the place.
The mayor of the Ocongate district, Grimaldo Quispe, warned that the death toll could increase because the Peruvian Army is looking for a group of missing residents, who went out to the countryside to try to put out the fire, according to the state agency Andina.
The communities of Andayaje and Llachi in the district of Ccatcca and Lagua Lagua in Ocongate are the most affected by the fire that unleashed on the Hatun Kcasa hill, which has already destroyed more than 100 hectares of natural pastures, eucalyptus and pine trees.
At least fifteen injured have been transferred to the Regional and Antonio Lorena hospitals in Cusco, among which there are children with severe burns.
The district mayor explained to Andina that farmers in the area are devastated because half a million pines and other timber species have been burned, which they cultivated as their means of subsistence, as well as an ecosystem for the production of mushrooms.
Half a million pines, which we planted with sacrifice in the communities, have been lost, said Quispe.
In this district, it was planned to cultivate four million pines in the four years of municipal management.
In other regions of the country, such as Ancash and Puno, forest fires have also been reported these days, which is why the Ministry of the Environment and the National Service for Protected Natural Areas (Sernanp) urged the population to avoid "agricultural burns".
In Cusco, all the provinces present medium to very high conditions for the occurrence of fires, being Paruro, Canas, Chumbivilcas, Quipicachi, Acomayo and Espinar those that have more than 90% of their territory compromised, the ministry indicated in a release.
He recalled that causing forest fires is a crime that is punishable by 4 to 6 years in prison, according to the Penal Code, and that 98% of these incidents are caused by man.
These favorable conditions in the territory generate that a simple burning or bonfire triggers an uncontrollable fire, added the ministry.
He reiterated to the population to avoid burning fields (crops), pastures and vegetation cover, and pointed out that those who make payments to the land that cause forest fires destroy ecosystems, flora and wild fauna, and generate toxic gases that they exacerbate respiratory diseases, aggravating the current scenario of the COVID