Sleeping Giant mystery in Belize solvedTuesday, June 22, 2021
BELMOPAN, Belize (CMC)—The Belize government says there is no evidence of any geological activity in the mountains in the area of the Sleeping Giant, near St Margaret's Village, Hummingbird Highway.
It said also that none of the gases normally found at geothermal vents or fumaroles were present and that radiation levels were normal.
Last week, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Petroleum and Mining said the Geology and Petroleum Department in conjunction with the Forest Department had commenced an investigation into the cause of the event.
“The ministry advises the public to cease visitation to the area in the interest of safety until the joint investigation is concluded as there may be natural hazards and other safety risks that need to be determined,” it said in a statement.
In its latest statement, the ministry said that the Forest Department found the cause or source of the plumes of smoke “to be a deep smouldering detritus fire, possibly ignited from a lightning strike at the site, which occurred around June 8, 2021.
“The area is located on top of a ridge comprised of Paleozoic non-volcanic basement rocks, and is covered by a thick mat of detritus or decaying organic matter and dead trees which are fuelling the continuous slow burning or smouldering.
“At the time of the visit, the area affected was approximately 100 metres long and 40 metres wide. The Forest Department is monitoring this slow burning fire to determine the best course of action,” the ministry said.
The ministry also expressed gratitude for the assistance of villagers who took the team to the site.
Chief Forest Officer, Wilber Sabido, later told reporters “we can confirm that the fire was actually started from a lightning strike.
“If you recall in June eighth or thereabouts, there were a number of thunderstorms throughout the country, but also in the higher elevation areas where the site is located which is about twelve hundred feet above sea level. It seems that the strike basically triggered the debris to actually smoulder.”
Sabido said the geology and petroleum department did all the tests that it needed to do and that if left unattended the fire will burn everything in its path.
“When the rain comes, we may have some erosion taking place and we did witness erosion taking place in some areas that had already been burnt because of the rain that had passed through over the last week and a half,” he said.
Sabido added: “So as we move forward, we need to continue monitoring the situation. Secondly, if we see that the fire intensifies in terms of higher flames and the rate of spread because we already know definitively what is the area that we measured when we last went up there, then we will need to go into plan “A” which is going out there and trying to put out the fire mechanically with our own manpower. Or secondly if that is something that is too high risk, then we will need to consider the other option which is the use of helicopters to douse the area that is burning with water.”
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