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Chile receives international aid to quell raging forest fires with 26 reported dead

The fires, which have been going on for almost a week, have left an estimated 26 dead, 1,260 injured, and around 3,000 homeless, according to local reports

Incendio forestal
Incendio forestal | Shutterstock

February 7, 2023 3:50pm

Updated: February 8, 2023 8:58am

Brigades of international experts are joining the fight against an estimated 300 forest fires plaguing the central-southern zone of Chile, which have so far caused an estimated 26 deaths and burned down more than 1,100 homes.

As victims in agricultural, rural towns are just starting to recover from significant losses, 275 fires remain active.

So far authorities believe the fires have destroyed 270,000 hectares, which erupted amid unusually high temperatures in the south region of the South American country.

Theorist  fires, which have persisted for almost a week, have left an estimated 26 dead, 1,260 injured, 3,000 homeless and 1,159 houses burned, according to reports from the National Service for Disaster Prevention and Attention.

In the last few hours, firefighters and equipment have arrived in Chile from Argentina, Mexico, Spain and the U.S. The U.S. sent the "Ten Tanker," largest tanker plane in the world, with a turbo-fan powered engine and the capacity of carrying and distributing 9,400 gallons of water or fireretardant.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken sent his condolences to the Chilean people on Twitter, announcing the U.S. will provide "additional help in the days and weeks to come." 

Chilean President Gabriel Boric, who suspended his vacation in Patagonia on Friday to travel to affected areas, said there are "indications" that some of the fires were caused by "unauthorized burning."

The regions of Biobío, Ñuble and La Araucanía are the most affected by the fires that have already destroyed more than 45,000 hectares and a hundred homes and have caused the eviction of dozens of municipalities.