International aid for Chile to fight wildfire crisis

At least nine countries are sending various forms of aid to Chile to help deal with what President Michelle Bachelet has called the worst forest disaster in Chile’s history, consuming an area about three times the size of New York City.

As of January 30 there were at least 58 active wildfires that have burned 1,047 homes and killed 11 people, including four firefighters and the pilot of a single engine air tanker.

Spain, France, and Portugal have each sent over 50 firefighters, while Venezuela, Colombia, and Mexico have also mobilized firefighters to Chile.

Brazil is contributing the use of a C-130 with a slip-in Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS), and Russia sent a IL-76 air tanker.

The United States sent four wildfire specialists from the U.S. Forest Service and the USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) committed $100,000 to Caritas, a local non-governmental organization associated with the Catholic Church, for the regional procurement and delivery of firefighting equipment. The U.S. Embassy in Chile announced that an additional $740,000 is being provided.

A grandson of the founder of WalMart, Ben Walton with his wife Lucy Ana, are funding through the family’s foundation system the initial deployment and use of the privately owned 747 SuperTanker out of Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA.

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