04 Dec 18

Fires around the world: Fire in Chile

In January of this year, Chile faced recurring weeks, wildfires in the Center and in the south of the country. It was considered one of the most devastating fires in Chile in the last 20 years. The fires reached 273,000 hectares and about 5,000 people had to leave their homes.

The main affected areas were rural, as Santa Olga, O’Higgins (the two in the Center) and Maule (South). More than 1,600 houses were burned, totaling a loss of 330 million dollars. This forest disaster mobilized over 4,000 military personnel, firefighters and brigadiers, 37 aircraft, light trucks and heavy machinery to fight fire.

The Chilean fire killed 11 people, including firefighter Juan Eduardo Bizama, after a tree fell on top of the car he drove, as well as a volunteer, 2 policemen and 3 brigadists. A state of emergency was decreed on January 26, ending on February 4. According to the Minister of Finance, Rodrigo Valdés, the Chilean government estimated around 1 year to recover the burned houses. Source: G1.

Incêndio no Chile

Chilean government officials have stated that the cause of the fires was man-made, many of them intentional. At the end of January, 42 people were arrested.

Due to the dry season, with successive waves of heat, high wind speed, low humidity and the difficult geography of the affected regions, the fire spread.

Compared with the years 2015 and 2016, the number of fires increased 14% in the period 2016 and 2017. The affected area had an increase of 1,182%. But this increase is not only due to the dry season, the climate changes has also had a lot of impact on forest regions, prolonging drought time, lack of rainfall and the existence of drier plants, which allows for more fires.

As stated earlier, human action on the environment, with deforestation practices, clearing of land for pasture and disputes over territories, cause great fires. In addition, other seemingly harmless factors, such as throwing cigarette butts, dropping balloons, lighting a fire, and discarding glass in dry areas, are also crucial. In the case of glass, it increases the incidence of light on the dry surface, triggering the burning process that gives rise to the fire.

The fire in Chile, as well as in other places, demonstrates how important is a greater government control in forest areas, especially in the period of drought and frost. It is necessary to educate the population about the causes and ways of avoiding it. And let’s not forget about climate change, another factor that affects not only rural areas, but also cities.

Some tips to prevent fires are: remove any type of fuel that feeds the fire from the area where there is fire potentiality; have a water supply close to the vegetation; invest in wetting foams or agents and build natural barriers.

Remember, in case of fire the priority is your life and who is with you. Do your best to protect yourself.

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