Mexico calls in U.S. help to battle wild fires

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The United States will send fire-fighting aircraft to help contain blazes raging in northern Mexico, the Mexican government said on Monday.

Mexico is suffering its worst outbreak of wild fires in several years and the government said President Felipe Calderon would on Tuesday visit the worst hit area, Coahuila, a state bordering Texas, which has also been badly hit by blazes.

Authorities say around 75,000 hectares (185,000 acres) have been burned in Coahuila, almost entirely in grasslands.

Mexican Environment Minister Juan Elvira said three U.S. helicopters with sprayers and a Boeing 747 tanker would go into action there on Tuesday.

“We could have the area under control in about two to two and a half weeks,” Elvira told Reuters.

The minister said no major populated areas were currently in danger and the fires were currently heading away from the United States toward the southwest.

Canada has also been consulted about providing help, the Mexican forestry commission said.

North of the border, nearly 240,000 hectares (600,000 acres) have been lost to wild fires in Texas since February 22.

(Reporting by Dave Graham and Rafael Castillo)

Mexico calls in U.S. help to battle wild fires