Quito fire department responds to multiple emergencies, including forest fires and cable car incident

February 5, 2024

Coordinated response to El Ángel ecological reserve fire

The Fire Department of the Metropolitan District of Quito, at the National Secretariat of Risk Management’s request, activated the Forest Fire Reinforcement Brigade (BRIF) on January 27.

This move was part of a concerted effort with the Fire Department of the Espejo canton in Carchi province to tackle a forest fire in the El Ángel Ecological Reserve’s buffer zone and within the Payurco sector, El Salado.

The fire prompted a significant multi-agency response, including several fire departments, the Armed Forces, the Ministry of the Environment, Water and Ecological Transition, and community volunteers, under a unified command to extinguish the blaze affecting the reserve.

Monitoring and overflight operations using drones were conducted to identify fire lines and hotspots.

Efforts focused on containing and controlling the fire at altitudes between 3,400 to 4,200 meters above sea level, targeting grassland, bushes, and endemic species such as the frailejones.

Following these actions, a meeting led by the province’s main authorities on January 30 confirmed the absence of hot spots, thanks to overflights and on-the-ground monitoring.

Consequently, the Quito Fire Department declared the fire, which affected approximately 1,600 hectares, extinct and emphasized the importance of ongoing monitoring and prevention campaigns to protect the region’s ecosystem and water resources.

Sincholagua forest fire challenges

The slopes of the Sincholagua volcano, specifically in the El Carmen sector, recently experienced a forest fire now under control.

However, residual hot and smoky areas persist, largely due to local residents’ intentional vegetation burning and indiscriminate deforestation activities.

These practices have contributed to deforestation and soil erosion, highlighting a disregard for the city’s climatic conditions and a lack of responsibility towards wildlife conservation and human safety.

The Metropolitan District of Quito’s Fire Department is taking necessary steps to ensure that those responsible face appropriate sanctions.

Rescue operation on the Cable Car

On February 2, the Quito Fire Department successfully managed an emergency on the Cable Car, evacuating 12 people from five gondolas after the system was restored.

The operation involved 30 personnel and 15 vehicles.

Additionally, 70 individuals at the summit were assisted in descending by the fire department and local communities, utilizing the cable car system once weather conditions improved.

No injuries were reported in the incident, marking a successful resolution to a potentially hazardous situation.

FSJA Comment

The recent series of emergencies in Quito, ranging from forest fires to a cable car incident, underscores the critical importance of preparedness, coordination, and community involvement in emergency response.

The effective management of the El Ángel Ecological Reserve fire demonstrates the capability of local fire departments and supporting agencies to work together under challenging conditions to protect natural resources and ensure public safety.

Meanwhile, the situation in the Sincholagua volcano area serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges in enforcing environmental protection laws and the need for greater community awareness and involvement.

The successful rescue operation on the Cable Car further highlights the importance of quick and efficient emergency services in urban environments, ensuring the safety and well-being of residents and visitors alike.

These incidents collectively emphasize the need for continued investment in emergency services, environmental education, and community engagement to mitigate risks and enhance resilience against future emergencies.

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