An exceptionally warm, dry and windy summer in the southern hemisphere caused a spate of forest fires in Chile. Since July 2016, there have been 3177 forest fires. As of 7 February 2017, 56 fires were still active, mainly in central and southern Chile. More than half a million hectares of land and more than 1000 homes have been destroyed.
Most fires are now under control, thanks to a massive deployment of the European Civil Protection Mechanism (EUCP) to assist Chilean authorities. Since 28 January 2017, 14 EUCP Mechanism experts have been coordinating 3 national specialist teams from Europe: 69 firefighters from France and 52 firefighters from Portugal, deployed in the Bió Bió province, as well as 56 firefighters from Spain deployed in the Maule province.
The teams have been battling the flames on the ground, stopping several fires before they reach large cities. Spain's Emergency Military Unit (UME) recorded their successful efforts to control a forest wildfire before it reached the coastal city of Concepción, home to 200 000 inhabitants.