Several active fire signals and smoke plumes are recorded by OSEI with the NOAA AVHRR Sensor on 10 February 1999.
Fig.1. NOAA AVHRR image of the vegetation fires in Chile near Concepción 10 February 1999
(Source: NOAA http://www.osei.noaa.gov/ )
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. Today there is no smoke plume visible on the imagery. Local experts confirmed the interpretation made by the OSEI team concerning the burn scar and the solar heated surface visible on the NOAA AVHRR image above. The burned area is approximately 30,000 – 35,000 ha. Currently the fires near Concepción are under control, but there are problems arising from a fire, which burned almost 2000 ha of pine plantations (Pinus radiata) on the west coast of the peninsula near the town of Arauco ca. 60 km south of Concepción. Because of cloudy weather conditions today, the fire suppression efforts may be supported by drizzle.
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 more than 30.000 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.
Until yesterday more than 800 firefighters of the Forest Srvice of Chile (Corpoación Nacionál Forestál [CONAF]), Forestry Companies, City firemen, and military were involved in fire suppression. They were 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.
Tab.1. National fire occurrence and burned areas in Chile1994 – 1999
(Until 9 February 1999)
Note: Not including the fire in the Concepción area which burned 30.000 to 35.000 ha until today.
Contact in Chile:
Herbert Haltenhoff D. Chief, National Fire Prevention Program
Fire Management Department
National Forestry Corporation
Additional background information: According to the 10-year fire statistics (1989-98) the fires causes in Chile are: transiting people (30%), intentionally set (29%), forest slash burning (7%), agricultural burining (7%), unknown (13%).
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.