The world’s largest firefighting plane from California arrived in Bolivia Friday morning, Aug. 23, to help fight wildfires tearing through the Amazon rainforest.
The SuperTanker, a converted Boeing 747-400, can carry around 19,000 gallons of retardant, a substance used to stop fires, per trip.
After arriving, the aircraft began flying over devastated areas to help put out the fires and protect forests near the Bolivia-Brazil border.
Satellite images show the fires burning at a record rate for several weeks.
In just the past month, about 36,000 fires have ignited in the Amazon rainforest, nearly as many as in all of 2018. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research said an 80% increase in deforestation has occurred this year compared to the same period last year.
The fires have sparked international concern over an area that is often called the “lungs of the earth,” and 60% of it lies within Brazil. The Amazon each year takes in as much as 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.
World leaders from the G-7 have tweeted about the crisis, with French President Emmanuel Macron urging countries to put it at the top of the agenda.
President Donald Trump said Friday that he spoke with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and the U.S. is “ready to assist.”
Amid growing international pressure, Bolsonaro said Friday he would send the country’s military forces to assist in putting out fires, reversing course after initially dismissing concern over the massive disaster.