Guatemala’s president issues natural disaster declaration as 44 forest fires rage on

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemala’s president issued a natural disaster declaration Wednesday as 44 forest fires continue to burn across the Central American country.

President Bernardo Arévalo said that 80% of the fires were started by people. Farmers often burn stubble and grass in their fields around this time of year in preparation for planting.

“The current situation is not a coincidence, 80% of those fires were set,” Arévalo said.

Authorities canceled classes across three central provinces to protect students from the prevailing smoke. One of the largest fires is near a suburb of Guatemala City, the capital.

The declaration frees up funding for fire fighting efforts.

Guatemala is more accustomed to dealing with its restive volcanoes than forest fires.


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