Idyllwild Fire
Image. AP

President Gabriel Boric of Chile has called for unity and resolve in response to the deadly wildfires that have destroyed more than 1,000 homes and hundreds of thousands of hectares of land throughout the country's south-central regions.

According to the authorities on Monday, Feb. 6, the conditions conducive to the spread of the fires, which have already burned over 270,000 hectares (667,184 acres) and claimed at least 24 lives, are expected to persist this week.

The fires have already made 2023 the second-worst year on record in terms of hectares burned. They are the deadliest in the South American country in recent years. According to Chile's National Forestry Corporation, 275 fires were still burning as of Monday morning, Al Jazeera reported.

"Unity to face the tragedy, unity to rebuild ourselves. That has been and will always be the path in the face of adversity in our Chile," Boric wrote on Twitter.

The wildfires, which have been fueled by high winds and temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104F), have harmed at least 1,182 people, according to the Chilean authorities on Sunday, Feb. 5. Additionally, nearly 1,100 homes were destroyed.

According to Maria Ines Hernandez, a social worker, many houses in Santa Juana, a town about 53km (33 miles) south of Concepcion in the hard-hit Biobio region, were turned to ashes, leaving residents without a place to turn.

International aid and personnel began arriving on Sunday from Spain, Argentina, and Mexico, while more assistance was expected from several countries in the region, including Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Venezuela, and Peru, said reports.

180 experts trained in battling wildfires have departed for Chile to assist the country's civil protection agency in putting out the fires, according to Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard.

The Portuguese government announced on Monday, Feb. 6, that it was prepared to deploy 140 firemen to assist in putting out the wildfires, but that it would hold off until Chilean officials responded regarding their ability to house the contingent.

According to Chilean officials, a so-called Ten Tanker aircraft with a 36,000-liter firefighting capacity is also scheduled to arrive on Monday.

In an effort to accelerate relief, Chile issued emergency declarations over the weekend for the primarily rural southern regions of Biobio, Nuble, and Araucania. Large forests and farms that produce grapes and other fruit for export may be found in the area.

President Boric on Sunday emphasized that his government will give all necessary resources while also attempting to foster unity in the face of the horrific wildfires.

Some of the areas burned in the fires are poor and isolated and beset with violent clashes between Mapuche Indigenous people on one hand and the government, timber companies, and private landowners on the other.

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