A. Situation Analysis
Description of the Disaster
On 15 January 2017, Chile was affected by a series of forest fires extending from the Metropolitan Region to the Bío Bío Region. In a short period of time, the number of fires increased despite the constant efforts of the Fire Department, the Civil Defence Brigade and volunteers from different institutions.
The efforts in the affected zones focused on containing the areas closest to the main population centres, as well as mitigating and extinguishing the fires. They affected an unprecedented 600,000 hectares of land used for different activities. Forest plantations were the most affected, representing 57.2 per cent of the total affected areas, followed by bush and scrubland areas at 21.8 per cent, native forest at 18.3 per cent, land for agricultural use at 2.5 per cent, and land for urban and industrial use at 0.2 per cent. Water and sanitation infrastructure was also damaged.
As a result of the forest fires, 11 people died (three National Forest Corporation- CONAF brigade members, two police officers, two fire fighters and three civilians) and 7,157 people were affected according to Ministry of Interior and Public Security (ONEMI). Those affected were evacuated or moved to communal centres. On 20 January 2017, the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security decreed a Constitutional State of Exception, State of Catastrophe and simultaneous Catastrophe Zones for the Provinces of Colchagua and Cardenal Caro in the Regions of O’Higgins, Maule and Bío Bío.
All basic services were restored. When this operation ended, recovery and reconstruction continued in affected areas with coordination and management of government authorities and other donors. Water sources, pipelines and tanks suffered significant damage; government programmes supported their repair. As of early September 2017, irrigation systems had not yet been completely restored.
Forestry jobs were highly affected. Chilean Red Cross (ChRC) assessments confirmed that the Cash Transfer Programme (CTP) assisted families to cover their needs. Information from focus groups indicated that people had to engage in different occupations since the magnitude of the fire affected their livelihoods. In some cases, the municipality provided short-term jobs to specific groups. In terms of housing, families have rebuilt their homes using the same materials thanks to government subsidies or occasional donations from private businesses and volunteer-based organizations. The government provided housing subsidies to families displaced to other cities.