Wildfires destroy 41,200 hectares of forest land in Chile

SANTIAGO, Feb 12 (NNN-Xinhua) — Wildfires have destroyed 41,200 hectares of forest land in southern and central Chile, the country’s National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) said.

The figure represents an increase of 45 percent from last year in the area of forest land razed in the fire season, it said, adding it estimated a total loss of 70,000 hectares this season.

According to authorities, there have been 4,126 forest fires so far this season, mainly in the regions of Valparaiso and Aysen.

CONAF head Jose Manuel Rebolledo told the press ​that “we are working” to contain the fires, and the “first priority is to save lives.”

High temperatures in summertime across the South American country combined with strong winds, among other factors, have made it tough for firefighters to put out the flames, he said.

Chile’s firefighters have been battling as many as “142 fires a day,” Rebolledo added.

The national emergency management agency ONEMI reported on Sunday that the fires had claimed two lives, injured seven other people, left 55 people homeless and destroyed 31 homes.

In Chile’s history, the year 2017 is recorded to be the worst year for wildfires with more than 600,000 hectares of forest land destroyed. — NNN-XINHUA