Chile: 9 February 1999


9 February 1999

Several active fire signals and smoke plumes are recorded by OSEI with the GOES Sensor on 8 February 1999.

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Fig.1. & 2. GOES images of the vegetation fires in Chile near Concepción 8 February 1999
(Source: NOAA )

The fires currently burning near Concepción, Region Bío-Bío, Chile, are located in a region where agricultural and grazing lands are found as well as extended pine plantations.

The forest fire near Concepción began on Sunday 7 February 1999. As Mr. Herbert Haltenhoff, Chief of the National Fire Prevention Programme of Chile, reports, a total of 24 simultaneous forest fires have meanwhile burned ca. 28.000 ha. The type of vegetation affected is: plantations Radiata pine (30%), natural forest (20%), brush (40%) and grassland (10%) (preliminary figures). In addition, nearly 60 rural houses, 1 school, and other constructions were lost.

The forest fire possibly will be under control within the next two or three days. About 800 firefighters of CONAF, Forestry Companies, City firemen, and military are involved in fire suppression. They are supported by 8 helicopters and 5 air tankers.

All fires were caused by humans (use of fire in forest and agricultural activities, campfire, and arson). The current forest fire season is the more critical than the last time. Chile is currently suffering the worst dry season in the last 60 years.

The fire occurrence in this season is: 3,082 forest fires (the average of the last 5 years is 2,304 forest fires), and the burned area is 40,066 ha (5-yr average: 17.585 ha). The Concepción forest fire has burned 28.000 ha.

Contact in Chile:

Herbert Haltenhoff D.
Chief, National Fire Prevention Program
Fire Management Department
National Forestry Corporation

Additional background information: The 10-year fire statistics (1989-1998) of fire occurrence in Chile reveal that an average of 5,260 fires affect a total area of 53,192 ha per year (61% grass and brushland, 29% forest land). The average wildfire size is 10 ha. The fires causes are: transiting people (30%), intentionally set (29%), forest slash burning (7%), agricultural burining (7%), unknown (13%).

For some older fire analyzes and statistics: See International Forest Fire News. Photographic impressions of fires in Chile are provided in the Photo Archive.

A more recent report was presented in Brazil in 1998:
Sanhueza, Patricio I. 1998. Cooperación de los sectores public y privado en el control de los incendios forestales en Chile: Organización e integración: Claves para un buen resultado. Presented at the First South American Seminar/Fifth Tech. meeting on the Control of Forest Fires, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil, 29 June to 2 July 1998.

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