Wildfire causes mines to explode at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

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Exploding mines is a unique element in suppressing a wildfire

Guantanamo Bay wildfire

Above: a satellite image shows the location of a wildfire at Guantanamo Bay February 22.

A wildfire that began outside the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba burned through a minefield and onto the Base February 22. Thanks to a mutual aid agreement the fire was extinguished with the help of engines and a water-dropping helicopter from Cuba.

Approximately 300 of the 5,500 people living at the base were forced to evacuate. A spokesperson for the base, Julie Ripley, said the fire caused several mines in Cuban territory to explode.

The fire burned across a strip of land along the boundary of the base known as the Cactus Curtain. In the fall of 1961, Cuban troops planted an 8-mile barrier of Opuntia cactus along the northeastern section of the 17-mile fence surrounding the base to stop Cubans from escaping Cuba to take refuge in the United States. Both the Cubans and the U.S. military set mines in the area, but in 1997 President Bill Clinton ordered the de-mining of the American portion of the field. The Cuban military has yet to follow suit.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

3 thoughts on “Wildfire causes mines to explode at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba”

  1. Hi Bill, didn’t we also have this same type of problem there on the Trabuco RD on the Cleveland? Overshoots from Camp Pendleton and old WWII training ranges, etc. Seems I remember a few episodes of that there.

  2. As much as I love this idea of fighting fire, in mine fields, and cold-feeling under Opuntia cactus in a land whose government is not exactly known for its love for the American Heartland, I’ve just got to ask; what could possibly go wrong? Sounds like a fine job … for my brother-in-law.


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