Fires in Chile left at least seven dead and destroyed about 14,000 hectares, equivalent to approximately 20,000 soccer fields. That’s what the Chilean government said on Friday night (3).
The authorities extended the declaration of a state of catastrophe to the two regions most affected by the accident. The country is facing a heat wave, which has generated the fire.
The first four victims were registered in the city of Santa Juana, about 500 kilometers from the capital Santiago. Together with the neighboring region of Ñuble, they are the most affected by the fire, said Interior Minister Carolina Tohá.
Local authorities and firefighters confirmed the death of a firefighter working in Santa Juana. In addition, the Ministry of Agriculture regretted a helicopter accident that caused the death of the pilot and a mechanic who were fighting the fires.
Tohá informed that the government will reinforce ground equipment and the fleet of 63 aircraft currently available to fight the fires, and that the country is awaiting a response from companies in Brazil and Argentina to supply more aircraft.
She also said that a contract was signed for the arrival, on Monday (6), of a Ten Tanker plane, with capacity for 36,000 liters of water.
“The conditions in the next few days will be very risky”, declared Tohá, recalling that until this Friday afternoon (3) there were 39 fires being fought concentrated in the regions of Ñuble, Biobío and La Araucanía.
Chilean President Gabriel Boric, who was away from office on a summer vacation in the south, suspended his rest and arrived in the affected area in the afternoon.
“My role as President of the Republic today is to ensure that all resources are available for the emergency and for people to feel that they will not be alone,” said Boric from the Biobío region, adding that there are “signs” that some accidents have occurred due to to unauthorized burning.
The fires left hundreds of homes damaged, while a network of shelters was put in place to accommodate families. There are traffic cuts on routes and highways due to the fire and several municipalities in the region have been vacated.
The two regions affected by the catastrophe, with intense agricultural and forestry activity, have a population of almost two million inhabitants. Together, they add up to 37,000 square kilometers in length.
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