Over 1285 wildfires recorded so far for 2024

…Regions 5, 6 flagged as hotspots

Guyana has experienced over 1285 wildfires since January, and this is a direct result of the El Nino phenomenon, which is responsible for the prolonged dry season. One thousand of those fires occurred in communities located in Regions Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and Six (East Berbice-Corentyne); whereas the regions with the lowest incidents of wildfires are Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) and Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruzi), which both had less than 200 fires.
Joint Service groups comprising officers of the Guyana Fire Service (GFS) and staff of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Guyana Forestry Commission are working across the country to diligently mitigate wildfires that are threatening.
In an interview with this publication, Fire Prevention Officer Sheldon Sauns disclosed that the teams are utilizing satellite imaginary surveillance to monitor fires countrywide, while land and air techniques are being used to prevent fires from escalating. According to Sauns, resources are stretched thin, but efforts are ongoing to procure advanced firefighting equipment specifically tailored to combat wildfires.
“The Guyana Fire Service has responded to a total of 1285 fires thus far, where we use jets of water and also the beat-out method to extinguish these fires. In responding to the multiplexity of reports relating to wildfires, and this is coming from the different regions, it is somewhat challenging; however, the Guyana Fire Service, along with the different stakeholders on board, we are giving it our utmost to mitigate the situation with the intention of eliminating it completely,” Sauns disclosed.
The Fire Service is urging citizens to avoid deliberately setting fires to either burn garbage or for land clearing, noting that such acts are punishable by law.
“The Guyana Fire Service, we strongly advise against the improper disposal of dry vegetation using fire, especially during this dry season. Engaging in such practices not only poses significant (risks) to property and the environment, but it also escalates the current (situation),” Sauns added.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, a specialized team from the Joint Services embarked on a critical reconnaissance mission to assess the locations of wildfires affecting Regions Three (Essequibo Islands -West Demerara) and Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica).
According to a statement from the Guyana Fire Service, the team departed via Skyvan aircraft at approximately 07:05h with the primary objective to conduct an aerial assessment of a significant wildfire ongoing within the Santa Mission/Arrow Point area.
This particular fire, situated approximately three miles north of Santa Mission and three miles from Timehri, was pinpointed, spanning approximately two kilometers in length, and was observed to be running from north to west.
In addition, the reconnaissance team also observed several small pockets of active fires in various areas, including La Bonne Intention, Buxton, Perseverance, and a large fire at Friendship.
Other major fires that were ongoing at the back of Mocha and at Houston, affecting residents on the East Bank of Demerara, have been extinguished.
The team was composed of Deputy Chief Fire Officer Scotland, Senior Police Superintendents Wray and Kingston, Major Ryan Briglall, Deputy Superintendent Wayne De Harte, and expert pilots Lt Col Ramjag and Major Layne.

The El Nino phenomenon, which is triggered by the warming of the central eastern Pacific Ocean, usually manifests every two to seven years, and lasts for a period of 9 to 12 months.
During the El Nino phenomenon, the environment would experience meteorological drought (which is a reduction in rainfall), hydrological drought (whereby water levels in rivers decrease, affecting livestock and food supply) and ecological drought, which dries up the moisture of the soil. Each of the droughts mentioned has the potential to cause wild or flash fires, decrease crop production, and cause flooding.
This El Niño phenomenon is expected to last until at least the end of April 2024, since the effects of an El Niño typically play out the year after it has formed.
However, several experts associated with agencies such as the World Health Organization have hinted that 2024 would be even hotter than the average global mean temperature between January and October 2023, which was the highest on record. It beat the 10-month average for 2016 – the current record holder for the hottest year.
Given the existing reality, medical experts have published countless articles warning that heat-related illnesses and deaths would increase. One serious, potentially fatal condition is rhabdomyolysis. (G1)