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The sky never goes dark while the Amazon burns

Updated : 2019-08-23 07:01:35

There are no lights in sight but the night sky glows a dusky yellow, for the Amazon is burning. The smell is of barbecue, of wood charcoal up in flames. During the day the sun, usually so fierce in these parts, is obscured by thick gray smoke. For the last seven days Reuters has repeatedly driven a 30-kilometer (18.6 miles) stretch from Humaita towards Labrea along the Trans-Amazonian highway, watching a fire eat its way through the jungle. At first, on Wednesday of last week the raging fire stood just a few yards (meters) off the roadway, the yellow flames engulfing trees and lighting up the sky. By the weekend the fire had receded into the distance but cast an orange glow several stories high. The fire is just one of thousands currently decimating the Amazon, the world's largest rainforest and a bulwark against climate change. Wildfires have surged 83 percent so far this year when compared to the same period in 2018, according to Brazil's space research agency INPE. The government agency has registered 72,843 fires, the highest number since records began in 2013. More than 9,500 have been spotted by satellites since last Thursday alone. On Wednesday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro enraged environmentalists by making unfounded claims that non-governmental organizations were starting the fires out of anger after he cut their funding. Global outrage has torn through social media, with #PrayforAmazonas the world's top trending topic on Twitter on Wednesday. (Source: Reuters)

This Aug. 15, 2019 satellite image from Maxar Technologies shows closeup view of a fire southwest of Porto Velho Brazil. Brazil's National Institute for Space Research, a federal agency monitoring deforestation and wildfires, said the country has seen a record number of wildfires this year as of Tuesday, Aug. 20. (Satellite image ©2019 Maxar Technologies via AP)
This Aug. 15, 2019 satellite image from Maxar Technologies shows closeup view of a fire southwest of Porto Velho Brazil. Brazil's National Institute for Space Research, a federal agency monitoring deforestation and wildfires, said the country has seen a record number of wildfires this year as of Tuesday, Aug. 20. (Satellite image ©2019 Maxar Technologies via AP)
Smoke billows during a fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest near Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil, Brazil August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino 
Smoke billows during a fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest near Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil, Brazil August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino 
An aerial view of a deforested plot of the Amazon near Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil August 22, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
An aerial view of a deforested plot of the Amazon near Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil August 22, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
An aerial view of a deforested plot of the Amazon near Humaita, Amazonas State, Brazil August 22, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
An aerial view of a deforested plot of the Amazon near Humaita, Amazonas State, Brazil August 22, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Fires, burning in the Amazon Rainforest, are pictured from space, captured by the geostationary weather satellite GOES-16 on August 21, 2019, in this handout image obtained from social media. NASA/NOAA/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Fires, burning in the Amazon Rainforest, are pictured from space, captured by the geostationary weather satellite GOES-16 on August 21, 2019, in this handout image obtained from social media. NASA/NOAA/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A man works in a burning tract of Amazon jungle as it is being cleared by loggers and farmers in Iranduba, Amazonas state, Brazil August 20, 2019. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
A man works in a burning tract of Amazon jungle as it is being cleared by loggers and farmers in Iranduba, Amazonas state, Brazil August 20, 2019. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
A tract of Amazon jungle is seen burning as it is being cleared by loggers and farmers in Iranduba, Amazonas state, Brazil August 20, 2019. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
A tract of Amazon jungle is seen burning as it is being cleared by loggers and farmers in Iranduba, Amazonas state, Brazil August 20, 2019. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
A charred trunk is seen on a tract of Amazon jungle that was recently burned by loggers and farmers in Iranduba, Amazonas state, Brazil August 20, 2019. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
A charred trunk is seen on a tract of Amazon jungle that was recently burned by loggers and farmers in Iranduba, Amazonas state, Brazil August 20, 2019. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
A tract of Amazon jungle burns as it is being cleared by loggers and farmers in Novo Airao, Amazonas state, Brazil August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
A tract of Amazon jungle burns as it is being cleared by loggers and farmers in Novo Airao, Amazonas state, Brazil August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
A tract of Amazon jungle burns as it is being cleared by loggers and farmers in Novo Airao, Amazonas state, Brazil August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
A tract of Amazon jungle burns as it is being cleared by loggers and farmers in Novo Airao, Amazonas state, Brazil August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
Smoke billows during a fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest near Humaita, Amazonas State, Brazil, Brazil August 17, 2019. Picture Taken August 17, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Smoke billows during a fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest near Humaita, Amazonas State, Brazil, Brazil August 17, 2019. Picture Taken August 17, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
In this Aug. 20, 2019 drone photo released by the Corpo de Bombeiros de Mato Grosso, brush fires burn in Guaranta do Norte municipality, Mato Grosso state, Brazil. Brazil's National Institute for Space Research, a federal agency monitoring deforestation and wildfires, said the country has seen a record number of wildfires this year. (Corpo de Bombeiros de Mato Grosso via AP)
In this Aug. 20, 2019 drone photo released by the Corpo de Bombeiros de Mato Grosso, brush fires burn in Guaranta do Norte municipality, Mato Grosso state, Brazil. Brazil's National Institute for Space Research, a federal agency monitoring deforestation and wildfires, said the country has seen a record number of wildfires this year. (Corpo de Bombeiros de Mato Grosso via AP)
This Aug. 15, 2019 satellite image from Maxar Technologies shows overview of fires southwest of Porto Velho, Brazil. (Satellite image ©2019 Maxar Technologies via AP)
This Aug. 15, 2019 satellite image from Maxar Technologies shows overview of fires southwest of Porto Velho, Brazil. (Satellite image ©2019 Maxar Technologies via AP)
This Aug. 15, 2019 satellite image from Maxar Technologies shows a fire and cleared land southwest of Porto Velho Brazil. (Satellite image ©2019 Maxar Technologies via AP)
This Aug. 15, 2019 satellite image from Maxar Technologies shows a fire and cleared land southwest of Porto Velho Brazil. (Satellite image ©2019 Maxar Technologies via AP)
A tract of Amazon jungle burns as it is being cleared by loggers and farmers in Novo Airao, Amazonas state, Brazil August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
A tract of Amazon jungle burns as it is being cleared by loggers and farmers in Novo Airao, Amazonas state, Brazil August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
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