Worst wildfires on record in Chile have killed 11 people – “The greatest forest disaster in our history”Posted by Jim at Saturday, January 28, 2017
By Jorge Poblete
27 January 2017
(Los Angeles Times) – Chile’s worst ever wildfires threatened the city of Concepcion and the nation’s wine industry Friday, a day after flames destroyed a town about 200 miles south of the nation’s capital.
President Michelle Bachelet’s office said the fires had killed 11 people, forced the evacuation of more than 5,000 and burned nearly 900,000 acres, mainly forests.
Most of the evacuees come from the town of Santa Olga, southwest of Santiago, which was destroyed Thursday.
“We are facing a serious situation and can only succeed if we work together,” Bachelet told reporters Friday morning after coordinating relief efforts at a meeting at the La Moneda presidential palace. Earlier in the week, Bachelet said the fires were the worst in the country’s history.
The government said Friday that as many as 65 separate fires continued to burn out of control.
Felipe Neira, president of Itata Valley winemakers association, said in a telephone interview that the industry, which is mostly concentrated in central Chile, so far had had lost about 100 acres of vineyards to the fires but that 1,250 acres were in jeopardy.
“Our wine heritage is burning up,” Neira said.
By Pascale Bonnefoy and Sewell Chan
25 January 2017
SANTIAGO, Chile (The New York Times) – A series of wildfires has devastated homes, farmland and livestock in a large area of southern and central Chile over the past week.
A prolonged drought and high temperatures have worsened the blazes, which have so far destroyed more than 700,000 acres of forestland and killed 10 people, mainly firefighters and police officers. The government has declared a state of catastrophe in four regions, deployed 1,200 troops to support the efforts of firefighters and appealed for help from other countries.
Chile has “practically exhausted its capacity to fight the blaze,” President Michelle Bachelet said, adding that her country was living through “the greatest forest disaster in our history.”
As of Friday morning, about 130 active fires remain, 51 of which have been contained, according to the National Emergency Bureau of Chile. They cover an area of about 920 square miles.
More than 2,700 people have lost their homes, and thousands have been evacuated from the affected areas. [more]