Summer Brush Fires

It’s summer in Panama which means hot, dry weather. Rain is very unusual and the sun is intense. Everything turns brown and crispy and fires are common. No one seems to know for sure how the fires start (there isn’t lightning or electrical problems that I can see) but there have been rumors that fire is a good way to clean a field or other area. Since this isn’t legal, people set a fire (and run) on a windy day so it will keep burning, but of course it’s easy for it to get out of hand and burn larger areas than intended.

The woods across the street burned (like they seem to do every year). My neighbors have learned to keep a large enough clean area to prevent the fire from coming through their yards, but it’s still scary to see fire approaching and the smoke is very unpleasant. Thankfully, the houses are cement block with metal roofs so they are not in danger of burning. And, fires happen enough that the vegetation can’t get thick enough to fuel a crazy inferno.

In the past, firemen have come with water tanks on their backs and nozzles to squirt water on the perimeter of the fire to keep it from spreading. This year they came in a pickup with a water tank in the back, and a motor to run a fairly large water hose which they used to wet down the perimeter. This worked temporarily but in the dry and very windy conditions, the fire soon flared up again. Later they sent an actual fire truck to put more water on the fire, which seemed to take care of the progression. The next morning however, when the winds picked up again, smoldering areas were able to break into flames again.

We were afraid the fire would come into our yard. We have it cleaned up fairly well,  but the heat from burning vegetation outside the fence is probably enough to cause our fruit trees to drop their leaves and then the fruit. This happened once in the past and it was two years brfore we had fruit again. Thankfully though this didn’t happen this time and we can continue to enjoy our oranges and limons.

Summer is not my favorite time. It starts in mid December which is fine, and January is OK. By February though I am tired of high winds and no rain, and I’d be happy for rainy season to return. This doesn’t happen until mid April though. People worry about the rainy season and sometimes have the idea that it rains all the time, which is not the case. Mornings are clear and beautiful, clouds gather in the afternoon and then it rains, sometimes a little, sometimes in buckets, but it usually settles down by dark and the evenings are cool and beautiful. Of course there are some days with no rain, and some days with rain from early afternoon into the night (or even 24 hours if there is an unusual weather system), but in general the rain is fairly predictable and it keeps everything lush, green, and beautiful.

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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2 Responses to Summer Brush Fires

  1. Marilyn says:

    Great info, Kris – good to know! Just curious if the “brown and crispy” season also applies to the higher elevations in Panama?

    Like

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