Large forest fire razing Chilean National Park forces evacuations

Large forest fire razing Chilean National Park forces evacuations

30 December 2011

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Chile — A large forest fire in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile has affected more than 5,700 hectares of land; the emergency has forced the closure of the park, several hotels and the evacuation of about 400 tourists.
At this time the fire is deemed out of control due to bad weather conditions in the region (strong winds over 100 km/h). The ONEMI (National Emergency Office) is developing plans to expand the contingent of firefighters working on the blaze.

Subject to weather conditions, a Twin Otter aircraft will survey the area to strengthen and direct the work of personnel, helicopters and other specialized aircraft battling the fire.

“Until yesterday there were 120 men working on the site. Today will double the personnel to 237 people including staff from the National Forest Service, the Army and the help of firefighters coming from Argentina,”

said ONEMI director, Vicente Núñez.

“The winds are very strong, with intensities of 110 km/h, which will hinder the operations. The air combat can be affected by the winds. Fortunately, cloudy skies are expected today, and it is likely that by the end the day we may have some rain.”

said Nunez suggesting the possibility that weather conditions could help to battle the fire in one of the major national parks in Chile.

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