Project September 20, 2021

The Chain of Fire



This project investigates connections between the fires that broke out in the Alter do Chão Environmental Protection Area (APA), one of the areas of greatest tourist expansion in the northern region of Brazil, and a network of land grabbing and speculation created in the region.

During the fires in 2019, members of the firefighting brigade that contained the fire in the APA were arrested on charges of having caused the fire. The state investigation opened against four brigade members was only filed in May 2021. The federal investigation against them was filed in February of this year. However, none of them found definitive culprits in the fires that, according to the Federal Police, were considered to be cases of arson.

In 2020, another two fires broke out in the protected area of Alter do Chão. The areas that were affected by fires in both 2019 and 2020 are being divided into lots that are being sold without titles by real estate brokers via social networks, at very low prices.

This whole process is taking place during a critical period of disinvestment in the environmental agencies responsible for fire control in the Amazon, while the main Brazilian firefighting program is being extinguished by the current federal government. The criminalization of the firefighting brigade and of other organizations was part of the government's response to international pressure related to environmental crimes in the Amazon.