Friday, December 30, 2011

Fire closes Torres del Paine National Park

Looks like a careless tourist  has set off a massive fire on December 27 in Torres del Paine National Park in Southern Patagonia. By this morning (Dec 30) a whopping 5,700 hectares were burnt already, according to Bloomberg, and counting (8,500 hectares this afternoon...). Winds of 90+ km/h are fanning the rapidly growing fire.

This traveller's Youtube video taken from a bus shows the fire's extent vividly.

The fire is uncontrollable and the Park has been closed completely now; tourists and trekkers have been evacuated.

TdP is known for its strong winds. Sparks fly far and wide (even a badly handled camping stove can set off a major blaze as happened in 2005)  and with the very dry conditions this year, fire hazards were very high. This fire started just off the trail, at Lake Grey. Park Rangers believe it might have been a camp fire that had not been extinguished properly. Hope they find whoever is responsible and hold them to account.

For  local coverage, there are local news links here and here (both are Lonely Planet Forum links to Chilean news media)

This is one area in the world where human-made forest fires are not needed to clear the underbrush. I hope the winds let up so that this fire can be extinguished and the ground erosion that follows can be stopped before it takes hold.

We took this photo at Grande Paine last year -
part of the W Circuit - which has been affected by the fire.
Note, the wind...
This is on the way from Grey Camp to Grande Paine/Pehoe.
Sounds like all this and much more has been burnt.

No comments:

Post a Comment