La Araucanía: Piñera visits areas affected by forest fires in southern Chile

SANTIAGO – President Sebastián Piñera on Monday flew over the towns of Carahue, Chol Chol and Nueva Imperial, in Chile’s La Araucanía region, affected by forest fires in recent days.

In the area there are 21 fires detected, of which 15 are being fought, one in observation stage and five have already been controlled, which has forced the deployment of 26 aircraft.

In addition, the Head of State indicated that there are 34 brigades working, of which 24 are from CONAF and 10 are Army Fire Brigades. To that are added the nearly 300 firefighting volunteers who are working to fight the fires that, until now, have killed two people, and have left another 40 sheltered, 121 injured, three injured and 26 homes destroyed.

After leading a meeting of the Emergency Operations Committee of ONEMI in Temuco, the president announced that starting Thursday, the region will have a high-capacity plane of 40,000 liters, and an unmanned aircraft provided by the Chilean Air Force.

Piñera, accompanied by La Araucanía Mayor Jorge Atton, emphasized that “a task force has been created between the prosecutor’s office and the investigation police that is investigating all the evidence and information that we have collected in this matter” to find the causes of the fires.

“Those who are causing fires intentionally warn them that we are going to apply, in each and every case, the State Security Law,” said the president.

In addition, he asked the community for help “informing CONAF as soon as there are signs of a fire in order to fight them prematurely”.

The president pointed out that work has been done on planning models based on the orientation of the wind and the evolution of fires to prevent and fight fire. “We are planning the action, not only what remains this week, which is probably going to be the hardest week, but also what we are going to do during the rest of the fire season,” he added.

In October, Piñera presented the plan to fight forest fires, which considered a 25% increase in resources for CONAF, going from $ 41,735 million in the 2017/2018 season, to almost $ 53 billion in 2018/2019. The program considers 45 aircraft of light, medium and heavy wingspan, 222 brigades and 2,819 brigadistas, in addition to launching retardant foam vans, satellite mobile command posts with drones and light vehicles.

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