A Bolivian pilot and a Chilean mechanic died when their helicopter crashed while firefighting in the commune of Galvarino, in the region of La Araucanía, 700 kilometers south of Santiago, Chile.
In statements reported on February 4 in MercoPress, Mauricio Tapiaby, deputy director of the Chiliean National Service for Disaster Prevention and Response noted that the pilot had “many years of experience in aeronautics and firefighting” and that 11 others, including a firefighter, had died on February 3 in a “swarm” of at least 50 uncontrolled fires. Tapia reported that 22 had suffered burns and 95 houses destroyed.
A Constitutional State of Emergency has been declared for the central-south regions of Biobío and Ñuble.
Chilean President Gabriel Boric activated Armed Forces and Carabineros for prevention patrols. “It is much easier to prevent a fire than to fight it,” he said, while adding that fire control activities were progressing with an estimated 75 aircraft and 2300 firefighters.
Temperatures of 40 C (100 F) are being recorded, with moderating temperatures by next week but gusty afternoon winds continuing, and the recent Fire Weather Index in the 75th percentile.
In one video, a public official walks toward the fire and chaos to help guide the evacuees to a safety zone.
Updates can be monitored at ReliefWeb at https://reliefweb.int/disaster/fr-2022-000384-chl.