Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera declared a state of emergency Tuesday afternoon as a fast-moving wild fire in the Cajas Mountains threatened the city’s water shed.
The fire, which has so far consumed about 150 hectares in the Mazán Alto and Zorrocucho sectors of the Cajas Mountains, was first reported Sunday morning. According to the city’s Emergency Operations office, the fire is difficult to fight due to steep terrain and high winds.
Although helicopters equipped with bambi buckets are on the scene, strong up-drafts from mountain valleys prevent their use.
“The emergency declaration was necessary to bring in more resources and personnel to help fight the fire,” Cabrera said. He added that law enforcement authorities believe the fire was maliciously set and that an investigation is underway to identify the culprits. “This is especially inexcusable during the current drought conditions. We will bring these people to justice,” he said.
Cabrera visited the fire area, which is about 15 miles west of Cuenca, Tuesday morning after he was told that it was advancing toward the area set aside as part of the city’s watershed.
He declared the emergency two hours later when he was told that the fire was closing in on the protected area.
According to Emergency Operations, 110 firefighters are on the scene.