We had been tracking the satellite images of the fires on a laptop in the back of a 4×4 as we closed in on just one of the thousands of hotspots across northern Brazil.
Then the plume rose out of the rainforest to our right so we pulled off the main road down a dusty, bumpy track.
The smoke loomed large – we were soon in a ravaged wilderness.
A no man’s land with no sign of the men who’ve created it.
Charred tree stumps stretched for as far as we could see and further down the track the fires were still burning.
This land close to the border between the northern states of Acre and Rondonia is supposedly permanently protected.
There’s now nobody there, nothing to stop the relentless march of the flames.
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I watched around 10 trees fall to the ground in the inferno in the space of 10 minutes.
Deforestation is a brutal business – in two hours on the frontline the only wildlife we saw were birds and the odd butterfly.
Nothing is really left living on this land.
The dry season does bring wildfires pretty much every year.
Some have suggested what’s happening this year is around average – the statistics say that it isn’t.
The state of Rondonia has seen almost 5,500 fires just in this month.
There have been more than 26,000 wildfires across Brazil in August.
And then neighbouring Bolivia has seen over a million hectares burnt.
The data though doesn’t tell the story of the impact – for the rainforest, the one million indigenous people and the incredible diversity of plants and animals that live here.
The Amazon rainforest’s natural ability to store carbon and create oxygen is weakening – when you are coughing on the smoke that blankets huge areas of this state you can almost feel that oxygen disappearing.
The motto that is written on every green and yellow Brazilian flag is “ordem e progresso” (order and progress) – the military are here starting to fight these fires but in places where there have been reports that arsonists have free reign, there is very little order – what’s happening doesn’t feel like progress.
SOURCE : https://news.sky.com/story/there-is-nothing-to-stop-this-relentless-march-of-flames-11794801