Amazon in flames: Record 73,000 fires in 2019

The number of forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon has soared to an unprecedented high, with some 72,843 recorded since the start of this year alone, according to data released this week by the country’s INPE space research centre.

The figure is the highest since the INPE began collecting forest fire data in 2013 and represents an 83 percent increase on last year.

The fires have seen thick black smoke blanket several Brazilian cities, while a state of emergency has been declared in the south of the state of Amazonas.

Environmental groups have linked the growing number of forest fires to a surge in deforestation under the controversial environmental policies of President Jair Bolsonaro.

Though fires can occur naturally, many are started deliberately by farmers to clear forest for grazing or crop growing.

INPE reported recently that 920 square kilometres (370 square miles) of Amazon forest was lost to deforestation in June this year, an 88 percent increase on the same month last year.