Local July 30, 2014 | 8:24 am

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Country’s rugged terrain hampers fight against fire

Constanza, Dominican Republic.- Thousands of pines and other varieties have been cut down to create a firewall in a frantic effort to contain the forest fire that has charred several thousand hectares at Valle Nuevo National Park, in Dominican Republic’s rugged Central Mountains for the last 13 days.

Environment minister Bautista Rojas and heads of various agencies toured the fire’s various fronts to oversee the efforts to douse the blaze, but didn’t specify how much terrain was still burning.

10 days ago

Environment Ministry Forest Fire Dept. director Gerónimo Abreu said among the efforts being used to halt the advance of the blaze figure backfires although several hundred trees have to be cut down.

"But it’s much less damage than if you let the fire spread," Rojas said.

Around 600 firefighters including Army troops, local fire departments and volunteers try to control the fire which has ravaged around 3,100 hectares thus far.

Armed with chainsaws, picks, shovels and other equipment, the crews had to cross steep inclines to reach the area where they would start a backfire.

Rojas, veiled by the smoke from the blaze, told journalists that once the fire is controlled the National Park might have to be closed for a few months until it recovers.

Although the official on Monday said the fire had spread after some local farmers burned underbrush to plant crops, one of the locals said a lightning strike is what started it.

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