The continuous rain, beginning February 1 and falling across various regions of Colombia, has extinguished the severe forest fires that have plagued the nation since early 2024. The National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD) reports that, since November, when the most intense phase of the El Niño phenomenon started, there have been 582 fire outbreaks across the country, damaging over 36,000 hectares of vegetation.
As of February 4, Colombia has no active fires, attributed to the efforts of firefighters, police, and military forces, and significantly aided by recent rainfall in various regions that helped douse the flames. Firefighting teams confirmed the extinguishment of the final forest fire in Sabana Crespo, a rural zone near Valledupar, the capital of the Cesar department.
A month of environmental crisis
Authorities had forecasted February as the most critical month, expecting high temperatures and prolonged drought. However, since the month’s start, rainfall has been widespread across Colombia. The combination of water accumulation, increased humidity, and a decrease in temperatures and solar radiation hours has been crucial. As a result, Colombia currently has no active fires.
Although the fires started three months ago, it was at the beginning of the year when the most critical phase began, as the proliferation of fires exceeded the capacity of firefighting professionals. As a result, the government of President Gustavo Petro decreed a natural disaster emergency, which will last throughout the year, and requested assistance from neighboring countries.
Although the situation has changed radically, the country remains on alert because weather conditions could change again. The authorities have warned that the ban on controlled burns continues and have asked the population to remain on alert.
No environmental alert in Bogota
In response, Bogotá Mayor Carlos Galan has lifted the environmental alert that had been imposed on Colombia’s capital due to poor air quality. This condition was attributed to fires burning over 15 hectares, mainly on the city’s eastern hills, caused by combustion.
“The air quality has continued to improve in Bogota, so we have decided to lift the environmental alert phase 1, as well as the mobility restrictions that were maintained in the southwest of the city,” wrote the local president in his social networks.