Amazon fires in August triple compared to same month last year

Fires in the Amazon in August 2019.
Fires in the Amazon in August 2019. Copyright INPE screen grabCereceda, Rafael
Copyright INPE screen grab
By Rafael CerecedaAlice Tidey, Vincent Coste
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So far this year nearly 94,000 fires have been observed across Brazil with the majority recorded in the Amazon.


August was the worst month for fires in the Amazon since 2010, according to latest figures from the Brazilian Institute of Space Research (INPE).

Nearly 31,000 fires broke out in the Amazon last month, data from the INPE shows. The figure is triple that observed in August last year and the highest recorded in a month since 2010 when the country was hit by a severe drought.

The surface burnt in the rainforest last month represents an area of ​​24,944 km² which equals to 4.2 million football pitches.

The Brazilian Institute for Research on the Amazon Environment (IPAM) said in a technical note released on August 20 that the increase is directly linked to human activity as there have been no extreme weather patterns — such as a sustained drought — to explain otherwise.

"In 2007 and 2010, for instance, when the dry season in southern Amazon was more intense than normal, large areas of forest burnt, causing high tree mortality. Even in years with lower deforestation rates, as occurred in recent years, the intensity of the dry season determined the occurrence of fire," the environmental NGO wrote.

As of September 3, nearly 94,000 fires have been recorded across the entire Brazilian territory, the majority of them (48,725) have been in the Amazon. That's a 62% increase on the same period last year and the highest figure since 2010 when 147,263 fires had been recorded in the country.

It also remains far behind numbers observed during the first decade of the century, with a peak in 2005 of 157,061 fires.

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