High temperatures, strong winds and low humidity have not let up central-southern Chile, which has been affected by a wave of forest fires for a week. The outbreaks in combat have reached 90 this Thursday -at the beginning of the emergency there were 22-, according to the report of the National Service for Prevention and Response to Disasters (Senapred). The number of fatalities remains at 24 after a downward correction of two people. The Government of Gabriel Boric has decreed a curfew as of this midnight in some affected municipalities. “They are going to be very difficult days, the weather conditions are not with us,” warned the Chilean president. The flames have already devastated more than 360,000 hectares and 28 people have been arrested for their alleged responsibility in generating the fires.
Nationwide there are 323 developing forest fires. Of these, 90 are in combat, 186 controlled, four extinct and 46 under observation or on the way. “During the course of today and tomorrow, the risk situations are going to be transferred or expanded to the regions of Maule, O’Higgins and the Metropolitan, where, in addition, the humidity is lower,” he announced this afternoon at a point of press the undersecretary of the Ministry of the Interior, Manuel Monsalve. “We are in containment work, but on alert,” added Christian Little, director of the Chilean National Forestry Corporation (CONAF).
As of midnight, the curfew will come into effect in towns in areas where a state of constitutional exception of catastrophe has been decreed: Nuble, Biobio and Araucania (located 400, 500 and 700 kilometers south of Santiago, respectively). . The Boric Administration justified the measure to guarantee the safety of the affected families and facilitate the work of the thousands of brigade members and firefighters. “Tomorrow [por el jueves] and the past is going to be very difficult for Chile. We are going to have high temperatures, low humidity and winds. Therefore, I want to insist on the call for responsibility,” the president said Wednesday night. Over the weekend temperatures are expected to drop – they have reached 40 degrees – and mark around 30, which is usually summer in the center-south.
Undersecretary Monsalve reported this afternoon that 28 people have been arrested for their possible participation in the origin of the flames. Most of them due to indications of negligent actions that led to a fire. Carabineros reported on Tuesday that the first 15 detainees were divided into those investigated for the crime of arson (80%) and for carrying elements to cause havoc (20%).
Those affected by the deadliest wave of fires in a decade in the South American country exceed 5,500. Destroyed homes reach 1,200 and 800 are under evaluation. The government spokesperson, Camila Vallejo, together with the Undersecretary of Social Services, Francisca Perales, announced this morning the Recovery and Early Aid Plan that contains 13 measures to support the victims of the emergency. Among them is a bonus of 1,900 dollars to the most affected families and 1,250 to those affected moderately or slightly. Also “decent” transitional housing, with electrical installation, drinking water and sewerage.
There will be relief and tax exemptions, financial support for small and medium-sized businesses, farmers, peasants and beekeepers. Veterinary care for pets and livestock will also be provided, among other measures.
The wave of fires occurs when the school calendar is on summer vacation, but the Minister of Education, Marco Antonio Avila, has reported that close to a thousand will be affected by damage to some twenty educational facilities, although the cadastre continues. “It will be guaranteed that students from areas affected by the fires can start their school year” set for March 1, the Boric Executive promised this morning.