Worst wildfires in Chile in a decade

President Michelle Bachelet declared “a catastrophe zone and a state of emergency in the areas affected by the fires”.

wildfires map Chile

Above: the red dots represent heat at fires in Chile and Argentina detected by a satellite January 21, 2017. NASA photo.

As Chile experiences its largest siege of wildfires in a decade the President has taken steps to enable the military to assist firefighters. Many fires are burning near the capital, Santiago, and within 200 miles south of the city.

More than a dozen blazes have burned almost 50,000 hectares (123,000 acres). Reuters reported that the largest has consumed 24,000 hectares (59,000 acres) 87 miles south of Santiago.

Chile President wildfires tweet

The video below is from CHV News. It is in Spanish, but has several minutes of video of the fires. Google translated the title and description: “37 fire assets affect the south central zone of Chile – CHV NEWS -President Bachelet announced this day that international aid was requested, as the outbreaks do not provide.”

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills.

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10 thoughts on “Worst wildfires in Chile in a decade”

  1. I am currently in Santiago, Chile and have helped fight a couple of the fires South of the city. I can say it’s as bad as they say it is. Lots of smoke in the Capitol and lots of helicopters and people working to battle the fires. I heard this morn that the 747 supertanker from Colorado is in country to fight the fires also

      1. Contact the Chilean consulate over there in Canada , pretty sure they’ll accept your help. We surely need it , a town of about 1000 homes was burned to the ground last night and 5000 people where left homeless.. It’s really bad.

  2. Nowadays, we have some towns in Santiago who need help: San Jose de Maipo, Pirque, Melipilla, Paine and Las Viscachas. I think there are people involved in the fires and we should try to catch them.

  3. It used to be that in the “off-season” we only worried about going to fires in Arizona and New Mexico. We would hear bits and pieces of reports of fires in Russia, Canada and Australia, but never thought about going to help outside our country. Now with major fires erupting globally it is good to see that there is more international cooperation, but we need to address the issue of all the “part time and seasonal” employees that the Forest Service, Park Service and Bureau of Land Management hire and fire each year. Thanks Bill for continuing to educate us on the global dilemma and consequences that wildfires are presenting worldwide.

  4. We are planning a trip to Chile arriving on Febuary 2, 2017. We have a daughter with type 1 diabetes. She is healthy but am worry about the chaos & smoke inhalation & getting bottled water & safe food. We are also arriving in Santiago & going to Valaporis. What do you think? Is it really bad there? Never know about the news. We are hoping for the people it will end quickly.

      1. Hey Joe & Debbie,
        Nothing to worry about in Santiago & Valparaíso, the main fires are about 200 km down south, and some days you get hazy air in Santiago when the wind blows this direction. Over here life’s pretty normal, just super hot these last few weeks and the news almost 24/7 showing stuff about the fires.
        You’ll find bottled water for sure, convenience stores and supermarkets.
        Enjoy your trip and practice your Spanish!

        1. Jordi,
          Thanks for the reassurance! We appreciate it hearing from someone who is from there. The news are a little frightening & we are not to knowledgable of locations.
          Please keep us update. Thanks again. Hope for the people sake they get this under control. Our prayers are with you.
          Debbie

          Joe We are planning to go! Our tour company said these areas are safe too. Have a safe wonderful trip! Lets keep each other informed.
          Debbie

  5. Hi Debbie,
    I am also travelling with my daughter to visit friends in Santiago … they have no concern with us visiting them now with the exception of the air being somewhat polluted from the fires .
    Where are you flying from?

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