Brazil’s firefighters battle wildfires raging during rare late-winter heat wave
An extensive area of the Serra das Bandeiras forest burns in Barreiras, western Bahia state, Brazil, Thursday, September 21, 2023. According to the National Center for Prevention and Combat of Forest Fires, the fires are being fanned by strong winds, high temperatures, and dry weather. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Firefighters on Thursday were battling flames in Brazil’s northeastern Bahia state, fanned by strong winds and abnormally high temperatures for the season, authorities said.

While it is still technically winter in Brazil, with spring due to start in a couple days, a heat wave prompting record temperatures has swept across much of the country since the beginning of the week.

Faced with a growing number of hot spots caused by high temperatures, Bahia's association of forestry-based companies this week launched a campaign to prevent — and combat — wildfires.

State authorities said they have mobilized over 150 military firefighters to put out fires in different areas across the state, as well as in Chapada Diamantina, a national park known for its panoramic views.

The Instagram account of Bahia's secretary for public security showed images of firefighters making their way through parched forests, equipped in high-visibility orange gear and helmets, attempting to bring the licking flames under control.

The fires broke out Monday, according to local media reports. There are no details regarding the size of the affected area, but Brazil's National Institute of Meteorology has categorised the heat wave as a “great danger.”

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