Summer heatwave sparks devastating fires in Chile  -

Summer heatwave sparks devastating fires in Chile 

Today’s Image of the Day from the European Space Agency features the Valparaíso region of central Chile, where deadly fires have destroyed thousands of homes and claimed at least 122 lives. 

“The fires ignited in the mountainous forested areas to the east of Viña del Mar on February 2, 2024. According to news reports, the blazes quickly moved into densely populated areas on the city’s periphery despite efforts by authorities to slow their spread,” said NASA.

“The MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image of smoke billowing into the air on February 3. The fires destroyed about 8,500 hectares (30 square miles) of land and 6,000 homes, including entire neighborhoods in Viña del Mar, according to Chile’s National Disaster Prevention and Response Service (SENAPRED).”

The fires were fueled by intense summer heat combined with high winds. On February 5, SENAPRED said there were 161 active fires burning across Chile. The agency’s director, Álvaro Hormazábal, told CNN Chile that firefighters had more than 100 of the fires under control, but were still battling 40 others.

“The summer heatwave was also felt elsewhere across South America,” said NASA. “Record high temperatures were recorded near Bogotá, Colombia, in January, fueling widespread wildfires in the hills near the city. On January 23, temperatures in Jerusalén, reached 40.4°C (104.7°F), a new record high. A day later, the town of Honda reached 44°C (111°F).”

Image Credit: ESA 

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