Latin America & Caribbean

Argentina fire chief sacked over Patagonia blaze

Fire in the Andes mountains near Cholila, Argentina (23 February) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Fire in the area around Cholila is threatening Los Alerces, some 25km (16 miles) away

The head of Argentina's national fire control agency has been sacked as a huge forest fire threatens to engulf a renowned national park in Patagonia.

Jorge Barrionuevo was sacked during a visit to the region by the government chief of staff.

The fire is advancing towards Los Alerces National Park, which is home to larch trees dating back more than 1,000 years.

The flames have already destroyed 200sq km (77 sq miles) of forest.

Government chief of staff Anibal Fernandez said Mr Barrionuevo's work had been "unsatisfactory".

The fire is believed to have been started by a lightning strike more than a week ago.

Hundreds of rescue workers have since been fighting the flames, but officials now say they hope rain expected on Monday may help control the situation.

Local government officials say it may take hundreds of years for the damaged forests to grow back.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Firefighters have been trying to clear ground to stop the spread of the fire
Image copyright EPA
Image caption The government of the province of Chubut declared an environmental emergency because of the fire which has affected 200 sq km of forest.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Despite the efforts of firefighters, the flames are still illuminating the night sky

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