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Title: Mega wildfire in the World Biosphere Reserve (UNESCO), Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia - Chile 2012: Work experience in extreme behavior conditions in the context of global warming

Author: Medina, René Cifuentes;

Date: 2013

Source: In: González-Cabán, Armando, tech. coord. Proceedings of the fourth international symposium on fire economics, planning, and policy: climate change and wildfires. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-245 (English). Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station: 191-201

Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)

   Note: This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document

Description: Mega wildfires are critical, high-impact events that cause severe environmental, economic and social damage, resulting, in turn, in high-cost suppression operations and the need for mutual support, phased use of resources and the coordinated efforts of civilian government agencies, the armed forces, private companies and the international community. The mega forest fire that struck the Torres del Paine National Park and World Biosphere Reserve in the southern Magallanes region of Chile, in the period from December 2011 to February 2012, was caused by the negligent act of a tourist, in an area of difficult access by land and under extreme behavior conditions that made rapid access of ground attack resources even more difficult and made air attack impossible. Factors that influenced the event from the beginning were rapid rate of spread, high caloric intensity, resistance to control and longdistance emission of firebrands. On the other hand, the effects of climate change and global warming are being felt and viewed worldwide as a real threat, generating perfect scenarios for the occurrence of fires of this kind. Thus, this fire serves as a concrete example worthy of analysis for its magnitude, the considerable resources and means used, the level of complexity in attack operations, the great logistical deployments that had to be implemented due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of the site, the complications that had to be overcome, its impact on tourism and the local economy, the extensive media coverage it received, and its considerable political impact. Hence the need to draw from this experience those factors that could be taken into account in the prevention or suppression of highly-complex future fires, in order to help reduce the substantial environmental, economic, social and political effects generated by such fires.

Keywords: climate change, economic impacts, mega-fires

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

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Medina, René Cifuentes. 2013. Mega wildfire in the World Biosphere Reserve (UNESCO), Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia - Chile 2012: Work experience in extreme behavior conditions in the context of global warming. In: González-Cabán, Armando, tech. coord. Proceedings of the fourth international symposium on fire economics, planning, and policy: climate change and wildfires. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-245 (English). Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station: 191-201.

 


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