Chile: Fire Valparaiso (MDRCL010) Emergency Plan of Action Final Report


A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

A large-scale forest fire affected the city of Valparaíso in Chile, located some 120 kilometres from Santiago. The fire began around 4:00 pm on 12 April near Camino La Pólvora, a section of one of the major highways near Valparaíso in the vicinity of the El Mole landfill. The fire destroyed 12,000 hectares of grasslands, shrub lands and eucalyptus trees. This is considered one of the largest and most destructive events in Valparaíso's history.

At the time the DREF operation was launched, the latest reports from national authorities indicated that more than 800 homes had been destroyed by the fire and that more than 12,000 people had to evacuate their homes. As the days passed, damage and losses from the fire continued to grow. Figures provided by the government reported that some 3,500 families had been affected, of which 80 per cent had their homes damaged or completely destroyed.

The National Emergency Office at the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security (ONEMI) estimated that more than 3,500 members of the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF), Fire Department, Investigative Police (PDI), together with the Army and the Navy, worked to bring the emergency under control. In addition, air resources and water trucks were initially sent by the municipalities of Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, Villa Alemana and Esval.

The ONEMI dispatched trucks loaded with mattresses, blankets, water, respiratory protection masks, tents and food rations to affected areas. Collection centres were set up at the beginning of the DREF operation at the O'Higgins Stadium, Juan Bosco Church, the Naval Gym, the Playa Brava Sports Centre and the Trafon Centre. The fact that the city is built on a series of steep hills made access difficult, which should have been taken into account. Moreover, many of the affected hills had very poor or non-existent water supply systems, which aggravated the situation.

On 17 July 2014, the red alert for forest fire-affected areas was lifted 97 days after the start of the emergency.

As previously planned, the Chilean Navy provided support to officials at two collection and distribution centres until 18 July. The Chilean Army, represented by the Military Work Corps, continues to work in conjunction with the regional administration on relief activities. Government work crews are also continuing to assist the population as they recover.

The ONEMI's Regional Early Warning Centre is continuing to take the necessary course of action to safeguard the population.