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    Forest Fires Burn Out of Control in Bolivia


    by NTDTelevision

    Bolivian authorities have declared a state of emergency as forest fires burned out of control on Thursday. The government has asked for help from Argentina and Brazil to quell the fires.

    The fires have spread rapidly in windy dry conditions, turning eastern provinces of Bolivia into a disaster zone.

    The president urged people not to burn fires indiscriminately.

    [Evo Morales, Bolivian President]: (male, Spanish)
    "They say we are not equipped to fight the fires and it's true, we're not. This isn't just the government's responsibility but every man and woman's. I remember that this is the burning season, clearly. Those who burn off vegetation without thinking must first clear the area so that the fire doesn't jump across."

    The blazes were started by peasants who, at this time of year, burn large sections of prairie lands and forests to clear land to use for cultivation.

    The practice, though common in the Andean nation, is illegal, but the government has struggled to enforce the law designed to protect the environment.

    Authorities believe that human lives, towns and wildlife reserves are at risk.

    Sources say at least 23 airports are closed, with landings and take-offs not permitted due to the lack of visibility.

    Fires have been detected in the departments of Cochabamba, Beni, Santa Cruz and Pando.