The wildfires that threatened Cuenca’s water shed are out, doused by more than a hundred firefighters, helicopter bambi bucket drops, and timely evening showers, but the damage to native vegetation is severe, authorities say.
Although the fires did not enter the protected zone set aside as the city’s watershed, the loss of growth on the burned hillsides will cause problems for a number of rural community water supplies, according to ETAPA, Cuenca’s public utility company.
In addition to destroyed vegetation, ETAPA said that hundreds of wild animals died in the blazes.
Between 200 and 250 hectares were destroyed during the blaze in the Mazán Alto and Zorrocucho sectors of the Cajas Mountains, just west of Cuenca. The fire, first reported Sunday morning, burned out of control until late Wednesday morning when firefighters were able to gain the upper hand.
Firefighters worked down from the higher elevations of the mountains and dropped more than 10,500 liters of water on the fires as a change in wind conditions allowed the use of helicopters. Rain showers that began late Wednesday afternoon and continued until midnight provided the coup de gras.
Several injuries were reported to firefighters, according the Cuenca mayor’s office, none of them life-threatening.