The sky never goes dark while the Amazon burns

Updated: 2019-08-23 03:08
A handout photo made available by NASA of a satellite image showing several fires burning in the Brazilian states of Amazonas (top C-L), Para (top R), Mato Grosso (bottom R) and Rondonia (bottom C). [Photo/IC]

HUMAITA, Brazil - There are no lights in sight but the night sky glows a dusky yellow, for the Amazon is burning.

The smell is of barbecue, of wood charcoal up in flames. During the day the sun, usually so fierce in these parts, is obscured by thick gray smoke.

For the last seven days Reuters has repeatedly driven a 30-kilometer stretch from Humaita towards Labrea along the Trans-Amazonian highway, watching a fire eat its way through the jungle.

At first, on Wednesday of last week the raging fire stood just a few yards (meters) off the roadway, the yellow flames engulfing trees and lighting up the sky. By the weekend the fire had receded into the distance but cast an orange glow several stories high.

The fire is just one of thousands currently decimating the Amazon, the world's largest rainforest and a bulwark against climate change.

Wildfires have surged 83 percent so far this year when compared to the same period in 2018, according to Brazil's space research agency INPE.

The government agency has registered 72,843 fires, the highest number since records began in 2013. More than 9,500 have been spotted by satellites since last Thursday alone.

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