Wildfires take devastating toll in Chile

Firefighters tackle blaze in Chile (c) Bomba Americana Valparaíso

Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes due to extensive wildfires across Chile. Drone images show entire neighbourhoods have been destroyed and hundreds of thousands of hectares of land have been devastated. Sadly it is thought that the fires have claimed the lives of some inhabitants and firefighters.

The fires have escalated in recent days due to unusually dry, windy conditions. Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet said, as she visited the hard-hit Maule region, “We have never seen something of this size, never in Chile’s history. And the truth is the [firefighting] forces are doing everything that is humanly possible and will continue to do so until the fires are contained and controlled.”

MapAction has sent a team of two volunteers at the request of the Chilean government. They will initially be working from Santiago to support the United Nations’ Disaster Assessment and Coordination team in understanding the extent of the disaster and risks to populations.

You can view video footage of the impact of the fires here.

Maps from the field team will posted in the maps and data repository – Chile Wildfires, January 2017