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Chile. Fires. Fatalities, extreme weather conditions. They’re waiting for the weather window

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Fires are raging in central and southern Chile. On Sunday, local and foreign firefighters fought on nearly 300 fronts, trying to bring the raging flames under control. So far, 24 people have died in the fire and thousands have been evacuated, according to the country’s authorities.

Fires raging in central southern Chile since January have killed 24 people and destroyed more than 420,000 hectares of forest, the Chilean civil defense service (SENAPRED) said on Sunday. A total of 289 fires were active across the country, of which 80 are still uncontained.

Difficult working conditions

SENAPRED officials confirmed that 6,000 people had to be evacuated by Sunday. So far, the fire has also destroyed nearly 1,500 residential buildings. On Sunday, red fire alerts were in effect in the O’Higgins, Maule, Nuble, Biobio and Araucania regions.

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According to the Undersecretary of the Interior, Manuel Monsalve, from Saturday to Sunday, firefighters managed to control 19 fires. The fight against the element is made difficult by the weather conditions that have prevailed in Chile for weeks – hot summer, gusty wind and dry, parched soil. The politician added that firefighters are waiting for a convenient “weather window”, i.e. a decrease in air temperature.

Fires in Chile, Biobio region, February 10PAP/EPA/ESTEBAN PAREDES DRAKE

The arsonists were detained

In the fight against fires, local firefighters are supported by rescuers from nine countries around the world. On Sunday, Portugal sent a rescue and medical team to Chile. Earlier, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Spain, Ecuador, Italy, Mexico and Venezuela sent their rescue teams to Chile. In total, nearly 800 foreign firefighters are already fighting the element.

According to the Chilean police, some of the forest fires were started by arsonists. So far, 31 people have been arrested on this charge.

Fires in Chile, Biobio region, February 10PAP/EPA/ESTEBAN PAREDES DRAKE

Fires in Chile in satellite imagesEuropean Union, Copernicus Sentinel-3


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