President Piñera implements the National Forest Fire Prevention and Firefighting Plan for 2020-2021: “We have prepared, responsibly and thoroughly”
The program comprehends 62 aircraft, specialized state-of-the-art equipment and 2,957 fire fighters organized into 262 workgroups. This Friday, the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, unveiled the National Forest Fire Prevention and Firefighting Plan for the 2020-2021 season. The program has a cost of 61 billion Chilean pesos (US$75 million), the largest investment ever made in the history of fighting wildfires.
The program includes 52 aircraft that, if weather conditions change or worsen, can be increased to 62, with 2,957 fire fighters to combat wildland fires distributed across the country and 14 night crews, among other points.
“Never before have we been this operationally capable as we are now but it is necessary because of the enormous challenges we will face this season,” said President Piñera in his address at the El Bosque Air Force Base in Santiago. He was accompanied by Interior and Public Security Minister Victor Pérez, Agriculture Minister Antonio Walker and Defense Minister Mario Desbordes.
Also, the Armed Forces will provide support in the way of 56 Army crews (BRIFE), six Navy crews (BRIFAR), four helicopters (two for protecting naval areas) and air transport for crews and cargo. Up to three air tankers will be kept at El Bosque Air Force Base.
Likewise, the Plan also includes privately funded wildfire fighting resources of 72 billion Chilean pesos (US$90 million) set aside by the Chilean Wood Corporation (CORMA). This represents a 16% increase with respect to last season’s budget. Thus, financing will be sought for 55 aircraft, 4,000 fire fighters and 53 fire trucks.
By adding the State’s resources to privately funded ones, the budget will total 144.4 billion Chilean pesos (US$180 million). This will finance a total of 118 aircraft and 6,957 fire fighters.
“I am certain we will be able to rise to the challenge knowing how Chileans respond in protecting our beautiful country,” said the President.
Chile’s Meteorological Service anticipates a complex wildfire season due to warming temperatures, territory with combustible material (dry fuels), 10 years of permanent drought and previous wildfires that have generated a terrain ripe for new fires.
99.7% of all forest fires in Chile are started by humans, whether accidentally or intentionally. During the previous season (2019-2020) 43% were arson fires, causing damage to the environment, economy and housing. The regions that registered the highest arson rates were Biobío (68%), La Araucanía (55%) and Ñuble (51%).