Sao Paulo plunged into darkness by epic Amazon wildfire smoke (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

Though the sprawling metropolis of Sao Paulo is some 2,000 miles from the flames in the heart of the Amazon, some 9,500 forest fires have been raging since last Thursday alone. The blaze has produced enormous plumes of smoke visible from space, which eventually blanketed the city for roughly an hour at about 3pm local time. 

The hashtag #PrayforAmazonia has been steadily trending on Twitter.

According to Brazil’s National Institute of Meteorology (INMET), the apocalyptic scene was the result of a combination of factors: a cold front changed the normal wind direction and then combined with the smoke from the wildfire thousands of miles away, producing a dense layer of low, heavy clouds and fog.

The Amazon rainforest is experiencing the highest number of forest fires since 2013. The number of wildfires so far this year has reached 72,843, marking an 83 percent increase in 12 months. 

Wildfires are common in the dry season and the weather has not been abnormal, so deforestation is the main suspected cause for the dramatic increase in deforestation and subsequent spread of wildfires. 

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has brushed aside accusations of his government allowing harmful deforestation to escalate, and even went so far as to dismiss the head of the country’s environmental agency. He pledged to end “Shiite ecologist activism,” as part of his election platform which saw him elected by a solid margin back in January 2019.

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