In Chile, dozens of wildfires claimed at least 13 lives and destroyed 35,000 acres of land.
According to reports, eleven persons were killed in the village of Santa Juana in Biobio, south of Santiago while two people died when a firefighting helicopter crashed during a mission.
The Minister of Agriculture also reported an emergency-support helicopter in the southern region of La Araucania had crashed, killing the pilot and a mechanic.
”There is a swarm of fires, more than 50 between La Araucanía, Biobío, and Ñuble, and the smoke screens are very important,“ he added.
Meanwhile, states of catastrophe have been declared in the farming and forest areas of Biobio and neighboring Nuble, prompting the deployment of soldiers and additional resources.
Hundreds of homes have been damaged while 39 fires rage across the country, Interior Minister Carolina Toha said.
“The conditions in the coming days are going to be risky,” Toha said
She said ground equipment and a fleet of 63 available planes were reinforcing the firefight, with help from Brazil and Argentina expected.
President Gabriel Boric cut his summer vacation short and traveled to Nuble and Biobio.
“My role as president today is to ensure that all resources will be available for the emergency and so that people feel that they are not going to be alone,” Boric said.
He also pointed to signs that some fires may have been started intentionally.
Some families sought refuge in shelters, according to the Chilean disaster agency Senapred.
While Fires disrupted traffic on highways, and numerous settlements have been evacuated.
Tapia also stated 95 homes had been destroyed and more than 40,000 hectares had been destroyed by the 191 still active fires in Chile’s central-south region. Additionally, 22 persons had received burns, eight of them severe. It was stated that 45 of the 191 active flames are remained out of control.
According to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, four people lost their lives in two traffic accidents trying to flee flames while a firefighter suffered a heart attack. The rest were found burned.
The regions of Biobío, Ñuble and La Araucanía are the most affected by fires that have already destroyed more than 45,000 hectares and a hundred homes and have caused the evacuation of dozens of municipalities. Southern Chile is going through an unprecedented heat wave with temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius.
Chilean President Gabriel Boric, who suspended his vacation in Patagonia on Friday to travel to the areas affected by the fires, said there were ”indications“ that some of the fires were caused by ”unauthorized burning.“