Rain brings hope for fire-ravaged province in Argentina

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Firefighters in the province of Corrientes, Argentina

Wildfires that have been ravaging northern Argentina for several weeks have continued to advance relentlessly, although light rain that began over the weekend has given some hope to firefighters.

The province of Corrientes is the most affected area, where officials said at least eight separate fires continued to burn and had devastated at least 9% of the territory.

The flames are consuming about 30,000 hectares a day in Corrientes, and have destroyed almost 800,000 hectares so far, according to the latest official reports.

Strong winds, low humidity and dryness from drought have helped the fires spread since mid-January.

Forecasters said the light rain that was falling was expected to continue throughout the coming week.

The mainly rural province of farms, ranches and forests normally is characterised by abundant rain.

A man works to extinguish a fire consuming a forest in Corrientes, Argentina

“It never happened to us, we never lived something like this, we were really overcome,” said one resident, Jorge Ayala,

Experts have said the province could need years to recover.

Firefighting units have begun to arrive from all corners of Argentina and also from Brazil and Bolivia.

Artists and public figures are campaigning to raise funds for the victims, while donations of basic goods are pouring into the area.

People are bringing fruit, water and ice, said Laura Nunez, a volunteer helping fight the blazes.

“They bring it in a trailer, they are getting everything possible so that we can focus on the fire and try to help,” she said.

The light rainfall cheered the firefighters.

“It’s a blessing from God, I think God took pity on us,” said another volunteer, Estefanía Riveiro, who was carrying buckets of water to “help our animals”

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