Description of the Disaster
Since January 15, 2017, a series of forest fires have been raging through metropolitan areas in Chile's Maule region. Fires have become increasingly worse despite ongoing efforts by firefighters, volunteers and brigade members from various institutions. To date, 595,042 hectares of forest and agricultural land have been consumed, and as of 28 January 2017, these forest fires extend from the Coquimbó region to the Araucanía region. All work in the area is focusing on containing, mitigating and extinguishing fires near populated areas.
The Chilean president has instructed the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security to declare a Constitutional State of Exception and a State of Disaster in the provinces of Colchagua and Cardenal Caro in the O'Higgins region and in the regions of Maule and BioBío, which in addition have been declared disaster areas; likewise, a Constitutional State of Exception is in place for Valparaíso in the Valparaíso region.
To date, the death toll stands at 11 (3 CONAF brigade members, 2 police officers, 2 firefighters and 3 civilians).
Livelihoods (agriculture and livestock) are being increasingly impacted as forest fires become urban fires, affecting some 7,157people who have been either evacuated or displaced and housed in the collective centres According to the damage and needs assessment (DANA) carried out by Chilean Red Cross from 21 to 23 January in the regions of Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins and Maule, the fire had caused damage to forests, agricultural land and homes; however, this scenario has been changing as the fire has started to affect housing in highly populated areas, approximately 1,644 homes (1,206 totally destroyed, 244 severely damaged and 194 with minor damage).
There are several sectors and populated areas that have partially lost their electrical supply, and more are expected to lose power as they begin to lose their connection to the grid. Water supply service has been partially restored in urban sectors, but not in rural sectors because their electrical supply is down and the hoses and pumps were burned.