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News > Argentina

Wild Fires Raze Over 300,000 Woodland Hectares In South America

  • Firefighters work to extinguish a wildfire, Argentina, January 2022.

    Firefighters work to extinguish a wildfire, Argentina, January 2022. | Photo: Twitter/ @larazon_cl

Published 4 January 2022

Argentina's Environment Ministry pointed out that  95 percent of the latest wildfires are due to human negligence.

Over the last week, wildfires have razed 302,451 hectares in Argentina, 20,000 hectares on the Uruguay coast, and 11,000 hectares in south-central Chile.


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The Argentine Environment Ministry explained that forest fires are usually provoked by natural factors such as lightning falling during an electrical storm. However, it stressed that 95 percent of the latest wildfires are due to human negligence.

Currently, the provinces of Chubut, Neuquen, Rio Negro, Santa Cruz, and Tierra del Fuego, which are part of the Argentinian Patagonia, are the most affected with five active fires. Therefore, the Federal Environment Council declared an "igneous emergency" nationwide for 12 months.

So far, Chile's National Emergency Office (ONEMI) and the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) have registered 56 forest indents, 19 of them are still active. Located 700 kilometers south of Santiago, the Araucania Region is the most affected area since it has over 9,000 hectares destroyed by fire.

In Uruguay, forest fires have mainly affected seaside resorts, especially those located at the west coast of the Rio Negro and Paysandu departments, in which 22,000 woodland hectares were burned.

To prevent wildfires from increasing, the National Emergency System (SINAE) asked citizens and tourists not to use pyrotechnics, throw lighted cigarette butts from vehicles, or light fires in places not enabled for this purpose until the end of April, when the southern autumn begins.

The SINAE also advises that those who want to make a safe fire in forests should surround it with stones within a 1-meter radius, keep it clean of all combustible material at least 5 meters around, and turn it off with water or dirt when retreating.

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