In the midst of the worst drought and the second hottest winter on record in Chile, President Sebastián Piñera launched the 2021-2022 National Forest Fire Protection Plan, including the provision of 62 aircraft to help fight fires. Currently two fire outbreaks, one in Los Vilos and the other in Til Til, have already devastated more than 1,500 hectares and specialized helicopters and their crews continue to fight the fire.
The prevention season is expected to be extremely complex, due to variables that affect the generation of fire such as the mega drought, the dry and stressed vegetation, and the strong and changing winds. Thus, the government allocated CH$68,801 million for fire prevention and firefighting, which will be used to finance aircraft, brigades, and specialized machinery.
CONAF will have 62 aircraft and more than 3,500 brigade members. There will be a total of 270 conventional, night, and helitransport brigades.
"Today, we are aware that the incidence of forest fires could increase and everything indicates that we are going to be very active, so we are already prepared to operate", says Francisco Arriagada, Ecocopter's Commercial Manager.
Two Ecocopter aircraft fighting fires
Ecocopter has two aircraft models – AS350 B3/H125 – operating and they will be on alert in the bases located in the Ñuble and Maule regions. One of them is also collaborating in extinguishing the fire in Los Vilos. These aircraft can fly at low altitude, have power, stability, speed and a capacity to release up to 1,000 liters of water per discharge and transport brigade members.
"We have a complete support plan, increasing the availability of the fleet, equipment and preparation of the crews, in addition to operating with a sense of urgency and having all the safety measures to contribute to extinguishing the fire and prevent the spread that causes so much damage to our country," Arriagada emphasized.
The National Forestry Corporation has so far recorded nearly 50 forest fires throughout Chile since 1 July, when the 2021-2022 season began.