Armed Forces Fight Fires In The Amazon

Wildfires in the Amazon and Pantanal region have affected nearly 50,000 acres.
Andréa Barretto / Diálogo | 29 August 2019

Rapid Response

FAB uses two C-130 Hercules aircraft, each equipped with tanks of up to a 3,000-gallon capacity to extinguish forest fires in the Amazon region. (Photo: Brazilian Air Force)

Since August 24, 2019, the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) has been using two C-130 Hercules aircraft to fight the forest fires that have been raging through the Northern and Midwestern parts of Brazil. The aircraft have five water tanks with up to a 3,000-gallon capacity. As they fly over areas on fire, the water is released from two tubes to stop the progression of wildfires.

FAB’s activities are part of emergency operations the Brazilian Armed Forces have been carrying out in their effort to control the fires. “The extensive use of Armed Forces personnel and equipment, auxiliaries and other agencies, not only helps to fight illegal activities, but also controls the advance of fires in the region,” said Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on August 23, announcing a measure for the Guarantee of Law and Order (GLO) which will be extended through September 24.

During the GLO period, support from service members will be granted upon the request by state governors and may cover border areas, indigenous territories, federal conservation units, and the area known as Amazônia Legal. This region encompasses nine Brazilian states, including Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Acre, and Rondônia. Rondônia was among the first states to seek help from the Armed Forces.

As a result, a group of 100 service members from the Brazilian Army began to put out fires in the Jacundá Reserve. The national forest now has a medical clinic with dormitories and a cafeteria. Service members are coordinating with firefighters and officials from the group specialized in preventing and combating forest fires, which is part of the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources.

Ready to deploy at any time, service members from the Brazilian Army’s 51st Jungle Infantry Battalion undergo emergency training to combat fires, in Altamira, Pará state, Brazil. (Photo: Brazilian Army)

More fires

Brazilian neighbors are also fighting against wildfires that typically occur at this time of the year, due to very dry conditions.

Bolivia is going through the worst forest fire of its recent history. Fires have consumed about 1.2 million acres since early August, when the first outbreaks were detected. In an effort to quickly stop the fires, the country hired the largest tanker airplane in the world, the 747 Supertanker. The aircraft has been dumping water over parts of Bolivia since August 23, but the fires haven’t been completely put out.

Paraguay has already lost nearly 52,000 acres of the Three Giants natural reserve, near the Triple Frontier area with Brazil and Bolivia, to forest fires. The situation in the country is now under control.

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