The Bolivian government says its efforts to douse the major fire in the country’s Chiquitania region was "successful", after the Boeing 747 ‘Supertanker’, the largest of its kind in the world, made a second round Saturday to help extinguish the fires across the 700,000 hectares of forest in the nation’s arid southeastern.
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Minister of the Presidency Juan Ramon Quintana said the tanker focused on the area around Taperas, a savannah-like zone located between the mountain ranges of San Jose and Ipias.
Quintana said the plane, will carry out about four operations.
"We have seen that the plane has managed to unload between one plateau and another, practically creating a torrential rain in the area that is burning,” said Quintana who added “this is the second successful operation," to ABI.
The work done by the massive airplane makes it easier for firefighters to enter the area to finish controlling the fire, the minister said.
The tanker will continue to throw water on the flames in Tucavaca located in the Gran Chaco National Park Kaa-lya so that the conserved area is safe "from any risk of massive fires," said the minister.
The minister said that there are five areas in Chiquitania that have a high concentration of flames the government hoped to mitigate Saturday.
President Evo Morales, highlighted the work of the tanker and the volunteers who helped lessen the fires tweeting his thanks under the #UnidosEnLaAdversidad hashtag.
The Supertanker and our helicopters work to put out the fire. I appreciate the efforts of so many compatriots, men and women, who work on this hard task. We face this battle against the fires together.
"As planned, the Supertanker reinforced the effectiveness of the heroic work of our pilots, those in uniform and volunteers who are tirelessly fighting the fire in Chiquitania. We are strengthened and determined to overcome this challenge," Morales tweeted Saturday.
Defense Ministry Williams Kaliman said there were “still some isolated heat sources that were stifled in the past hours by soldiers and firefighters.”
Local media reported Friday that in the Chiquitania fires, some 1,817 families had been affected across 35 communities, damaging 1,225 hectares of crops and affecting several thousand heads of cattle. By Saturday, 10,400 bails of hay had been delivered and distributed to 11 municipalities to farmers and ranchers to maintain their cattle production, said the Ministry of Rural Development.
The president said he is getting price quotes for a 747 Supertanker so the country doesn’t have to rent them from the United States where the vessel was flown in from this past week.
Chiquitania is one of the main tourist areas of Bolivia and is a declared Unesco heritage that connects the Amazon and Chaco park reserves and were started locally, according to La Razon.