SANTIAGO – The worst wildfires in Chile’s modern history are ravaging wide swaths of the country’s central-south regions.
About 1,000 hectares of forest have been destroyed in the past 24 hours in Chile’s central region of Valparaiso, while authorities have declared the red alert in five areas on Sunday.
The province of Concepcion, in center-south Chile, is in red alert for a fire that threatens the rural locality of Talcamavida.
Also, others such as Vichuquen, Santo Domingo and Talagante are in communal red alert.
CONAF forestry service are still struggling to control the fires with five helicopters and one plane, according to the National Emergency Office (Onemi), with two fires remaining active in Quilpue.
En combate se encuentra el incendio forestal Los Eucaliptus (Villa Alemana, región de Valparaíso). En el lugar trabajan 3 brigadas y personal técnico de CONAF, además de @BomberosdeChile y 2 aviones. pic.twitter.com/wiCEOX2qJx
— CONAF (@conaf_minagri) February 12, 2018
On the other hand, over one thousand hectares of vegetation have been consumed over the last hours by several forest fires affecting the región of Valparaiso, one of the most damaged in the recent past by fires. Also, the flames devoured 200 hectares in Guindo Chico, north of the zone.
According to authorities of the region, the heat wave has Conaf, Bomberos and Onemi in alert, with all devices open in case they need to transfer persons to give them shelter, besides fighting the fires. But for now the damages have been directly against vegetation without affecting houses, so the flow of air media will be increased to pour water in an effort to control fire focuses.
The heat wave, according to meteorology forecasts, will bring temperatures of up to 34 degrees Celsius in several localities in the outskirts and center of Chile.
The fires have been fed by a prolonged drought and temperatures that have topped 40 degrees Celsius.
Forest fires are a regular feature of Chile’s hot, arid summers, but a nearly decade-long drought combined with historically high temperatures has created tinder-dry conditions.
— onemichile (@onemichile) February 12, 2018
International help from Spain, Peru, and Mexico, among others, has been pouring into Chile as the fires swept through forested hills and into neighboring towns, scorching homes, industry and the region’s world-renowned vineyards. The country last week declared a state of emergency.
At least some of the fires may have been started intentionally and there had been at least 43 arrests in relation to ongoing investigations.