San Pedro de la Paz issues a call to denounce the likelihood that multiple recent fires in the community may have been set intentionally

In the face of the series of outbreaks that arose in December in the sectors of Lomas Coloradas and Pinares, Biobío Region, Chile. Mayor Javier Guíñez requested a meeting of the Disaster Risk Management Committee [COGRID] be held on Tuesday.

This afternoon, at the Municipal Library of San Pedro de la Paz, Biobío Region, Chile, a session of the Disaster Risk Management Committee (COGRID) was held to analyze possible actions to take after the string of fires in recent weeks. Regional Biobío Governor Rodrigo Díaz, San Pedro de la Paz Mayor Javier Guíñez, and CONAF Provincial Director Giovanni Serey, SENAPRED [the National Disaster Prevention and Response Service] Regional Director Alejandro Sandoval, as well as the Chilean Carabinero Police Force, the Chilean Investigative Police, the General Electricity Company and CMPC representatives all participated.

After presiding over COGRID together with the authorities present at the meeting, San Pedro de la Paz Mayor Javier Guíñez said, “Today’s meeting is in service to what we must do to prevent any more fires from burning. We’ve held several meetings since the winter, which shows that we need to get ready for the contingency. First, we must prevent them from happening by being well prepared, so we call on the local population, all of our neighbors, to be very careful.” The community authority went on to stress how to behave due to the intentional nature of several of the hotspots. “Secondly, we must denounce anyone who intentionally causes a fire that ultimately causes damage to the forest or any buildings. Finally, we have to protect life. We’ve built firebreaks throughout the spring, working together with forestry companies and Conaf, which we’ll continue doing.”

Regarding the agreements discussed at the meeting, SENAPRED Regional Director Alejandro Sandoval said, “As SENAPRED, we manage emergency resources, and in this case we do so preventively. We’re waiting on the municipal district and the fire department to gather information, which they’ve committed to get done tomorrow. We’ll evaluate it and process it at the highest level as soon as possible to carry out the required capacity building, which we hope can make things easier for firefighters by having water stockpiles closer to the fire hotspots.”

Regional Governor Rodrigo Diaz said, “We‘re concerned because before this weekend there were several fires in the Lomas sector, and unfortunately some people create more risks due to carelessness, negligence or pyromania. We need citizens to help us, because no one wants to have a fire that costs the flora, fauna or lives of anyone in San Pedro de la Paz.”

CMPC Head of Community Relations and Forest Assets in the Concepción Area Beatriz Cárdenas said, “Unfortunately, in Lomas Coloradas in particular, it is highly probable that the fires were set intentionally due to their nature. Since there were several hotspots, the likelihood that this was intentional only increases. On the 29th, another fire even affected part of the wetlands. We’re calling on all citizens and neighbors to focus on prevention. Of course, if you manage to identify someone intentionaly starting a fire, call it in and report it immediately.”

The urgent nature of the meeting was evident. Along with putting local flora and fauna at risk, the fires were started in densely populated sectors, so very intense efforts were needed to get them under control. Recall that in December, the fire outbreaks in the Lomas Coloradas and Pinares areas began on December 2, followed by others on December 6, 8, 14 and 23, plus three more fires last Friday. The most recent ones were very close to reaching inhabited places in this community in the province of Concepción.