Local May 8, 2015 | 7:28 am

Arsonists ravage Dominican Republic forests

Santo Domingo.- Environment minister Bautista Rojas on Thursday said the forest fire at Loma Miranda, central La Vega province was arson and announced an investigation.

The blaze at Loma Miranda is the third major forest fire where arson is suspected, after those in Constanza (central) and Los Haitises National Park (east).

Quoted by listin.com.do, the official said the arsonists attacked workers at the site and then fired guns into the air.

"We understand that there were criminal hands in the fire at Loma Miranda. We’re investigating the causes and those responsible for this aggression. Furthermore the perpetrators also attacked the workers in the area, and even fired several shots into the air."

Rojas said the fire started Thursday morning and once apprised, sent assistance to the site. He said environmental groups kept rescue equipment from entering the area and hindered the media’s coverage, “threatening journalists with machetes.”

Four Dominican Air Force helicopters and one plane were dumping water on the fire, while Army soldiers guard the area, Rojas said.

Meanwhile La Vega residents say the smoke bellowing from Loma Miranda is covering much of the city and reduces visibility on the Duarte highway.

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