Catastrophic fire in Chile consumes 11,500 hectares and generates protests

The forest fire declared almost a month ago in southern Chile, described by the authorities as "one of the largest in the history of the country," has consumed 11,500 hectares and filled the nerves of the residents of the surrounding towns.

Under the slogan "The park is burning and nobody does anything," hundreds of residents of the town of Molina, in the Maule Region, 200 km from the Chilean capital, demonstrated on Sunday against the management of the extinction of a fire that was declared 23 days ago.

"The access in the ravines has made it impossible to reach the most specific sources of fire with personnel, the geography of the area does not allow us to arrive, we have only been able with the airplanes and helicopters, which has made the process longer", explained on Monday the regional director of the National Forestry Corporation (Conaf), Marcelo Mena.

The fire forced the Office of National Emergency (Onemi) to declare several weeks ago the status of "red alert" in the area and to evacuate two sectors inhabited nearby, as it affected about 150 people.

In addition, as a preventive measure, the vicinity of the “Radal Siete Tazas” national park, one of the 105 natural regions conserved by its ecosystems and by the native fauna and flora species that inhabit it, and a space for recreational and outdoor activities were closed free.

As Conaf reported on Monday, there are 33 brigades working to quell the fire among fire department personnel, the Armed Forces and Police (Chilean Police).

In addition, 33 aircraft between airplanes and helicopters work on the Andes mountain range, where the national park is located, along with 17 land machinery between public and private resources.

In the last five years, Chile has registered an average of 6,511 fires per season that have affected an average area of ​​177,000 hectares.

At the beginning of last October, the Chilean Government announced an investment of 120,000 million pesos (about 165 million dollars) in a plan for the prevention and combat of forest fires during the southern summer, the driest of the last 60 Years in the country.

"If you look at the vegetation of the sector, there is a water stress caused by very large drought and the vegetation is really very dense. It is very difficult to put out these fires," acknowledged a few weeks ago the Minister of Agriculture, Antonio Walker, during a visit to area.


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