The wildfire season has once again struck Chile, with the latest blaze consuming more than 750 hectares of forest, destroying houses and posing a significant threat to both forests and farms. The South American nation is facing a summer heatwave that has spread across the central and southern regions, exacerbating the danger posed by the wildfires.
According to the National Forestry Corporation, the fire has covered an area equivalent to nearly three times the size of Monaco, near the city of Chillán, approximately 400 kilometers from the capital city, Santiago. The disaster has had a devastating impact on the lives of local residents, with many losing their homes and possessions in the flames.
Juan Pradenas, a mechanic whose home in Chillán was destroyed in the fire, said, “It’s like your life is over. At my age, I have to start fighting again to recover my equipment. I lost all my working tools.” Rosa Torres, who lives near Chillán, echoed this sentiment: “It is terrible. The fire was there, we could see it from afar, and then the wind changed, and in the blink of an eye, the fire was here.”
In response to the severity of the situation, the Interior Ministry declared a red alert for the Nuble and Biobio regions, and temporarily closed seven national parks in Santiago and the southern regions to prevent new fires from igniting. Additionally, the authorities have ordered the evacuation of rural areas in Nuble to minimize the risk of the fire spreading.
The government also fears that the arrival of the Puelche, a hot, dry wind phenomenon, could worsen the situation in the region, which is already experiencing temperatures of 42°C (108°F). Agriculture Minister, Esteban Valenzuela, has described the situation as “very complex.”