In photos: Colombia battles raging wildfires
Raging wildfires that have so far burned more than 40,000 acres across Colombia since November are expected to intensify and continue through March.
- Colombia's National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD) said on Saturday that there were 17 fires still burning, with one blaze burning half a mile from a Bogotá neighborhood.
- At least two people have been killed since the fires began, according to local reports.
The big picture: The Amazon River Basin has been in "exceptional drought" since mid-2023, according to a recent study.
- The study found that while El Niño has worsened the drought, higher temperatures due primarily to human-caused climate change were the catalyst and also vaulted fires to more severe levels.
- While the majority of the Amazon rainforest is in Brazil, the vast biodiversity haven and carbon sink stretches across a total of eight countries, including Colombia.
- The combination of unusually dry conditions and hotter-than-average temperatures has primed the landscape for blazes.
Between the lines: Petro, who cut funding for firefighting efforts by 25% this year, has come under criticism for his handling of the situation, but he claims "mayors were warned" of the potential for wildfires.
- Funding for national firefighting efforts dropped from a little more than $90 million in 2023 to roughly $68 million in 2024.
- "To the extent that we know that in the coming days and weeks crisis events are going to increase, we want to make sure that we have the physical capacity to address and mitigate them," Petro said.