An uncontrolled fire that broke out in the Sama Mountain Range in Bolivia’s Western region of Tarija, has resulted in the area being declared a disaster zone.
The governor of Tarija, Adrian Oliva, issued the order, telling a news conference, "We are signing the decree declaring a disaster in the entire area affected by the forest fire.”
The blaze has devastated some 250 hectares, and endangered the lives of residents in at least three communities.
It has also forced local authorities to evacuate homes, bring the affected families to safety and close down local schools.
600 people, including staff from various firefighter and police units, officials from the Tarija Mayor's Hazards Unit, as well as SAR volunteers, are working to put out the fire.
Bolivian doctors assist evacuaees.
The Bolivian government has ordered two Air Force Super Puma helicopters capable of transporting about 1,800 liters of water and at least 90 more firefighters to douse the flames.
Despite this, Defense Minister Reymi Ferreira warned that it could take some time before it is fully extinguished.
"Large fire near the city of Tarija in Bolivia consumes about 250 hectares of the biological reserve of Sama #Tarija."
The fire has claimed one life so far, a student from the Basic Police School, who was helping to battle the blaze.
The worst wildfire disaster in the region occurred in 2002.
It destroyed 1,000 hectares in the area of Coimata, which is also located in the mountains of Sama.