February 15, 2021

Blessed with native flora such as the litre, soapbark and mayten trees, Cerro del Medio is located in the foothills of the Andes mountains, in the municipality of Lo Barnechea, in Santiago, Chile. It boasts a total of 65.7 hectares over a 3km stretch of land. An isolated area, it is an island of green covered with Andean bushland unique to Latin America called a Sclerophyll Forest, which in this case surrounds the Metropolitan Region. 

Cerro del Medio is known for its diverse panoramic views and lookouts over the valley the municipality is located in. There are several moderate to difficult trails that attract many a visitor to see the hill’s unique landscape and greenery, and those that love the outdoors. The main access point is at the intersection of streets El Golf de Manquehue, and Camino Las Hualtatas.

However, like many of the hills in the region, its natural ecological value, and the flora they are home to, have been significantly affected by drought and high temperatures in Santiago over the last decade. Cerro del Medio is a place that should be admired, and indeed has been, but at the same time it is at serious risk of wildfires, with the added danger of dry grassland in the area, grasslands that light up like kindling. 

This is what prompted the CMPC Central Fire Brigade to visit the area on the 12th of February for a third time, accompanied by the Municipality of Lo Barnechea, to carry out a fire prevention operation, and stay a step ahead of any eventual disasters.

The activity itself was notable for the information provided to visitors, where firefighters described preventive measures the public could also take to safeguard and protect the hill’s ecosystem; small things such as to avoid smoking, no campfires or barbecues, and to take their trash with them when they leave preventing buildup on the trails, among a series of other small but important actions they could take.  

During the initiative, the Central Brigade also built a 180-meter-long firebreak in the interface area, where urban development meets the hill ecosystem on the northern slope of Cerro del Medio.

Last but not least, experts provided vital training for staff in the Urban Counseling and Public Spaces team from the Municipality of Lo Barnechea, teaching them the actions and measures they can take when faced with a fire, in particular on Cerro del Medio where there are frequent outdoor activities the year round. 

In Chile, 99.7% of all forest fires are the result of human intervention, either through willful destruction, or simple human error. This is why the Central Brigade has worked to diligently since November of last year to educate the population, covering many diverse parks and other areas in the region, including the municipality of Lo Barnechea. Cultivating in them an awareness for, and the importance of, taking care of the local forests; it’s something we all must do, together.