San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Wildfire burns 400 hectares in Costa Rica’s Santa Rosa National Park

Another wildfire in Costa Rica has burned nearly 400 hectares of Santa Rosa National Park in the northwestern province of Guanacaste.

According to information provided by the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministry (MINAET), the fire has burned grassland areas that will take 10 years to regenerate.

Some 80 people from Guanacaste’s Firefighters Corps and volunteers from nearby areas are currently battling the blaze.

The fire brigades cannot use heavy machinery because of the region’s rugged topography, and firefighters are forced to attack the fire directly.

The cause of the blaze is unknown, but MINAET officials say it may have been intentionally set because access to the area is only granted to national park staff.

Earlier this month, a wildfire in the Chirripó National Park and La Amistad International Park, near Costa Rica’s border with Panama in the Southern Zone, destroyed some 150 hectares and took weeks to extinguish. Investigators say the fire may have been set by arsonists involved in the drug trade.

Wildfires in Costa Rica have increased sharply in 2012 compared to last year. Neglect and arson seem to be the prime causes of the fires. Already 73 wildfires have been reported this year, compared to only 11 by the same date in 2011.

Costa Rica’s dry season and unusual high winds have made battling the blazes difficult, firefighters say.

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