Officials are investigating the cause of a massive forest fire on Isla Bejuco that spread a plume of smoke like a misty blanket over the Pacific coast Gulf of Nicoya and the abutting mainland in late March.
According to a statement from the National Fire Management Program, the fire was intentionally caused – though the “how” and “why” remains a mystery.
Luis Diego Román, coordinator of the Fire Management Program, told The Tico Times he is concerned that development pressures may have played a part. Development is prohibited in forested coastal areas.
The inferno, which began March 24, raged for two days and burned 20% of the heavily forested uninhabited small island and affected more than 40% of the island’s total 150 hectares, according to Román.
A brigade of 30 volunteer firefighters was called in from neighboring Isla Venado, which has roughly 1,100 inhabitants, to fight the fire.
“Dealing with the winds and the tides made it a very difficult situation,” he said. Strong winds allowed flames to jump over a line of defense the firefighters had constructed, prolonging the fight.