The Venezuelan tinder box: no water but plenty fires

Firemen call on citizens to stop burning their trash and extreme precaution as the dry season approaches.

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Venezuela is beginning to look more and more like a smaller version of Australia or California, only one big difference, the Latin American nation is undergoing a humanitarian crisis and, unlike L.A. or Sidney, 80% of it has no running water service.

In central Venezuela’s Cojedes state alone there have been 92 forest fires so far this year, according to the state fire department.

Rains normally stop in December and resume at some point around May in Venezuela, in alternating dry and rain cycles that last two to four months every year.

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Cojedes’ firemen say they are unable to put out all of the fires in this budding dry season, where 78 such events in January, and 14 so far in February. And that includes a parking-lot fire which affected 150 cars in Tinaco, one investigator says may have been not a regular forest fire.

Some fires are just accidental, sergeant Gerardo Annarumma told El Pitazo. “There are persons who burn their trash, and some just because they are bored, they start a fire which they will know how will start but do not know how it’s going to end,” the official said.

“There is a particular risk near highways, particularly at dusk, when smoke affects visibility for drivers,” Annarumma said that the housing complex Ezequiel Zamora is, literally, a flashpoint for such incidents.

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