Cañete, Biobío Region, launches its rural fire prevention season with the support of CMPC

This activity is being carried out after the recent incorporation of the district to the Community Prevention Network a few weeks ago.

As the summer season approaches and with the aim of reinforcing actions to prevent fires from breaking out, the Municipality of Cañete launched the season’s forest fire prevention efforts.

With the participation of Chile’s Carabinero Police Force, Firefighters, the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF), the Chilean Timber Corporation (Corma), CMPC, the Community Prevention Network, as well as various municipal and civil society organizations, the main purpose of this launch was to present the work that the municipality has done so far to address potential fires, such as the technical working groups, in the stages of mitigation and preparation as well as getting the community ready. The event, held in Cañete’s Plaza de Armas square, was attended by students from municipal grade schools and secondary schools who received information from the different entities connected to preventing, managing and controlling forest fires that are available in the area.

For Jorge Radonic, Mayor of Cañete, the community must have the information needed to prevent and combat potential fire outbreaks. “The important thing is to reach the community, impact, commit and motivate them to work on eliminating those possibilities of forest fires or any type of fire from breaking out that damages private property or even people’s lives. In this sense, the municipality, private companies and community organizations are committed to the citizenry to serve as a bridge and collaborate on this task that everyone should get involved in.” 

Among the measures taken by the municipality to address the upcoming season, Mayor Radonic said, “We hired seven people to work on eliminating those epicenters that are possible places where fires could start. A meeting was held to look for specific points so that the team can work to prevent and eliminate this potential threat. This group of people will work until the job is done, but if it is necessary to extend their efforts, we’ll keep them going for the duration of the year.”

Public-private work

The joint work between the municipality and the private company is important for the community to understand the need for preventing forest fires in the first place and how neighbors can help with this mission. 

In this sense, CONAF regional director for Biobío, Rodrigo Jara, explained the work that this institution has done to face the next summer period. “We’re deployed throughout the territory and have been permanently coordinating actions with the Disaster Risk Prevention Committee in the various regional districts. To be in Cañete today, at the start of the period with the greatest occurrence of wildfires, is very important.” Jara also said, “Cañete is very significant for us, and we have our Fire Brigade Base just over here in La Granja. The mayor, councilors, the forestry companies and fire brigades are fundamental partners for us, as well as all the firefighters, both from CONAF and the forestry companies themselves.”

It should be noted that, at the national level, CONAF increased its 2023-2024 Forest Fire Plan budget by 47%. This increase in resources will make it possible to have even more firefighters, machinery and specialized vehicles available to combat this type of emergency. 

Héctor Cruz, CMPC Head of Community Relations in Cañete, stressed the importance of collaborative work with society. “This activity marks a milestone for our district. Fortunately, last year we didn’t have many fires, and that’s thanks to the prevention work we’ve done with various public and private organizations. Another aspect of this is the launch of CMPC’s prevention plan, which we carried out with the aim of supporting the community, both urban and rural, that lives near forests to teach them the steps to follow for preventing the spread of fire hotspots.” 

Ruby Opazo, leader of the Joint Union of the Neighborhood Committees for Cañete said that community work in preventing forest fires is essential. “I’ve followed the work carried out by CMPC and CONAF. We’re collaborating with them for this summer season. We’re working on prevention and education so that people understand how to clean their stoves properly, maintain electrical grids and take care of the grass. It is necessary to educate our neighbors and the community to prevent these painful risks from becoming a reality so there’s no more human or animal deaths in the countryside. It’s great to know that this is being addressed via the neighborhood councils so that our message reaches the most people possible. I’m grateful for these prevention efforts.” 

Community Prevention Network

The Community Prevention Network is promoted by the Chilean Wood Corporation (CORMA) and its partners in a pioneering initiative that brings together around 450 organizations from the Regions of O’Higgins to Los Ríos. During the current season, the committees together have already taken more than 5,277 measures with the community to prevent future wildfires. 

In this context, CMPC has actively supported the Fire Prevention Network by putting various resources and knowledge at the community’s disposal under the premise that the community is the first line of defense in preventing potential disasters. The community’s initial response will make the difference when it comes to future forest fires.