The number of wildfire in Amazon rainforest has broken the records in first eight months of 2019. Almost, 72,843 fires, according to Brazil's space research centre INPE. In 2018, around half number i.e. 39,759 was the total number of fires broke altogether. This is the highest number of forest fires for any year since 2013 and follows two years of declines. Since last Thursday, INPE mentioned that satellite has discovered 9,507 new forest fires in Brazil, prominently in the Amazon basin. Till this date, it is considered as the world’s largest tropical forest.
Amazon has declared an emergency in the south of the state and in its capital Manaus on August 9. Acre, on the border with Peru, has been on environmental alert since Friday due to the fires. Thick smoke has blanketed several cities in recent days and even caused a commercial flight to be diverted. Two states - Mato Grosso and Para - are especially experiencing hardship, wildfires are common in the dry season, but are also deliberately set by farmers illegally deforesting land for cattle ranching.
President Jair Bolsonaro faces growing criticism over rampant destruction of the Amazon. “I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame. But it is the season of the queimada (burnt),” Bolsonaro told reporters. “There is nothing abnormal about the climate this year or the rainfall in the Amazon region, which is just a little below average. The dry season creates favourable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident,” said INPE researcher Alberto Setzer.
Bolsonaro recently fired the director of INPE after he criticized agency statistics showing an increase in deforestation in Brazil, saying they were inaccurate. “I am waiting for the next set of numbers that will not be made up numbers. If they are alarming, I will take notice of them in front of you,” he told reporters.