SANTIAGO – In the central and southern regions of Chile massive forest fires have been raging over the last few days. Especially the Valparaíso region has been heavily affected. Thousands of hectares have been burnt and hundreds of Chileans have been evacuated from their houses.
Over 2,000 hectares of land and more than a hundred houses reduced to ashes. 2019 is only four days old but forest fires are already starting to take their toll in what seems to become another hot summer for Chile.
Especially the Valparaíso region has been heavily affected, according to the latest report of the National Emergency Office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Onemi). The office said today that in that region, besides three controlled fires, seven forest fires are still active. Among them:
- The massive fire in Santo Domingo, where 1,020 hectares of vegetation have been burnt.
- Puchuncaví and Nogales, where a forest fire already has destroyed 300 hectares. Three helicopters have been called in to help extinguish the ongoing fires. Another fire near Nogales, destroying 200 hectares, is also still active.
- The forest fire in Limache, that already has destroyed over 18.5 hectares in the district. 60 homes have been destroyed and 250 people have been affected there. Another fire between Limache and Villa Alemana has already destroyed 43 hectares.
Red alerts and preventive warnings
As a result, at the moment of writing eight red alerts are still active in the Valparaíso region. Most recent information about Code Red and Yellow alerts appears on the Onemi website.
Other regions that have been affected by forest fires are the Bíobío region, with a still uncontrolled fire near Santa Juana, and the O’Higgins region where a forest fire destroyed nearly 400 hectares near Navidad.
For the Coquimbo, Metropolitan and O´Higgins regions preventive warnings are issued due to the heat wave. 2019 is just four days in, but it seems Chileans should prepare for another summer of heavy forest fires.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.