Wildfires in Chile

2 January 2012

Wildfire burning in the Bío-Bío region of central Chile
Image: acquired on January 2, 2012. Instrument: Aqua - MODIS

A large wildfire burning in the Bío-Bío region of central Chile killed one man and forced more than 600 people from their homes in the first days of 2012. Active fire fronts are outlined in red in this image taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite on January 2. The large fire is one of several that MODIS detected near the cities of Concepción and Chillán.
The wildfire is burning through both commercial pine and eucalyptus forest and native forest. Since igniting on December 31, the fire has destroyed 162 homes and a wood manufacturing plant, said local news reports.
Warm temperatures and dry conditions contributed to the spread of fires throughout Chile in late December and early January. In southern Chile, another large fire burned more than 30,000 acres of native forest in Torres del Paine National Park. Clouds have prevented MODIS from imaging the fire. Though fire conditions are extreme, officials suspect that people started both fires.
Track fire activity in twice-daily images of both central and southern Chile on the LANCE MODIS Rapid Response System.

Note by GFMC:


On Tuesday 29 December 2011 a wildfire started to spread inside the Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. GFMC monitored the situation through local focal points and media news. Satellite images were not available for the South Patagonian region of Chile due to permanent cloud cover. In the region of Bio-Bio the satellite image of the wildfires burning in native vegetation and forest plantations near Concepción have been captured on 2 January 2012 (image displayed above). The following links to reports by the local and international media provide the development of the wildfire situation until 2 January 2012. Access to the GFMC internal database will be provide to GFMC partners on request.

Detailed news from the Media:

  • Chilean fire-fighting helicopter sabotaged amidst forest fires (published by www.santiagotimes.cl, 02 January 2012)

  • One Dead in New Fire in Southern Chile (published by www.laht.com, 02 January 2012)

  • Chile battles 3 huge forest fires; 1 killed (published by www.google.com, 02 January 2012)

  • Firefighters tame Patagonian bushfire (published by www.abc.net.au, 02 January 2012)

  • Dad of Israeli suspect in Chile fire: He's innocent (published by www.jpost.com, 01 January 2012)

  • Huge wildfire ravages Patagonia (published by www.rawstory.com, 31 December 2011)

  • Israeli tourist held over massive Chile wildfire (published by www.google.com, 31 December 2011)

  • Fire Forces Chile to Close National Park (published by www.bloomberg.com, 30 December 2011)

  • Chile national park shut down by wildfire (published by www.worldnews.msnbc.msn.com, 30 December 2011)

  • Equipos en terreno mantienen combate a incendio forestal (published by www.onemi.cl, 30 December 2011)

  • Wildfire Closes Chile’s Torres del Paine Park (published by www.bloomberg.com, 30 December 2011)

  • Fire destroys 1,500 hectares of Patagonia forest (published by www.google.com, 30 December 2011)

  • Tourists Evacuated from Chilean Park Due to Fire (published by www.laht.com, 29 December 2011)

  • Red alert set for wildfire in Chile’s Torres del Paine (published by www.ilovechile.cl, 28 December 2011)

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