Since 15 January 2017, Chile has been affected by a series of forest fires, ranging from the Santiago Metropolitan region to the Maule region. These fires have been increasing as the days pass and continue despite fire fighters, brigade members and volunteers from different institutions’ efforts to extinguish them; all the efforts in the affected zone have been dedicated to containment in the areas that are closest to population centres, as well as mitigation actions and the extinguishment of the fires. To date there have been more than 595,042 hectares of land affected by the fires, including forests, native vegetation and agricultural crops.
It should be noted that the president of the Republic instructed the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security to decree a constitutional state of emergency, a state of catastrophe and to simultaneously declare the provinces of Colchagua and Cardenal Caro in the O'Higgins region, as well as for the Maule and Biobío regions as natural disaster areas. In addition, the constitutional state of emergency remains in effect for the township of Valparaíso, in the Valparaíso region.
To date, eleven people have died (three CONAF Brigade members, two members of the Chilean national police force, two firefighters and three civilians). Furthermore, the severity of the effects on livelihoods (agricultural and livestock) continues to increase as the forest fires have become fires in urban zones, affecting a large number of civilians as people have been evacuated, displaced and are staying in the collective centres.