[please also see our update on 2nd January]
I’m very sad to say that a fire broke out in Torres del Paine at 7pm on Tuesday (27th December).
At the time of writing this post this is the most up to date and reliable reference point I have but things are changing quite rapidly.
- 1,500 hectares have been effected by the fire
- The Chilean government are treating it very seriously and sending in firefighters from several brigades, and are supported by the Chilean army
- 400 hikers have been moved to safety
- the trails in the western part of the park have been temporarily closed
- There have been no casualties
The fire started on the Eastern edge of the Grey lake and initially it seemed that is was relatively isolated (with only 15 hectares reported effected in the initial reports). Although around 20 people in the Grey area were moved to safety the majority of the park was unaffected.
However the strong Patagonia winds (reportedly up to 90km/h in the last few days) and the steep and rugged terrain have made it very difficult to contain and fight and it has spread quickly.
Five years ago a Czech hiker admitted to accidentally starting a fire that englufed the East of the park when he used his gas stove in an unauthorised area. Now, it seems people suspect human causes for this fire as well.
A guide with one group of Swoop clients has had to adapt their itinerary. We hope no others will be effected, but this is a very popular time to visit Torres del Paine.
All updates welcomed in the comments below.
Updates from Luke:
This is a helpful map of the area affected: http://www.latercera.com/multimedia/interactivo/2011/12/687-38825-4-incendio-forestal-en-torres-del-paine.shtml
Latest understanding at very end of day on 30th December is that the park may be closed for at least one week, possibly the whole of January.