Chilean forest fires ravage largest area on record

Chilean forest fires ravage largest area on record

22 April 2014

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Chile — Forest fires in Chile have ravaged an area the size of Manhattan, Buenos Aires, Paris and Madrid combined since October.

In the 2013-14 season, Chile has registered 5,885 forest fires, 7% more than in the previous season and 14% above a five-year average, according to figures from forestry service Conaf.

Forest fires have destroyed 101,775ha, the largest area since records began in 1963.

Valparaíso, one of the most populated areas in central Chile, suffered its worst fire in history last week, leaving 15 people dead, up to 15,000 homeless and nearly 3,000 homes destroyed.

But Valparaíso is not an isolated case. Forest fires have also been ravaging central and southern Chile, with most of the incidents taking place in areas hit by a severe rain deficit.

The largest fires have been in three regions – the metropolitan region (which includes Santiago), and regions VII and IX. The five-year drought in several areas has created the conditions for forest fires to ignite easily.

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