A firefighter arrested in Chile for the Valparaíso megafire – DW – 05/25/2024

A firefighter arrested in Chile for the Valparaíso megafire – DW – 05/25/2024
A firefighter arrested in Chile for the Valparaíso megafire – DW – 05/25/2024

A firefighter was arrested this Friday (05/24/2024) for allegedly having caused the megafire that devastated several towns in the coastal region of Valparaíso, Chile, last February, and left 137 dead and thousands of homes destroyed.

“The field work, the gathering of evidence, the analysis and the crossing of information was what made it possible to locate, establish behavioral patterns and geographical publications of movements (of the detained firefighter),” the director of the Police of Investigations (PDI), Eduardo Cerna.

According to local media, the arrested person is 22 years old and had been working as a firefighter volunteer for more than a year in the 13th Company of Placilla, in Valparaíso, 110 kilometers northwest of Santiago.

“There is compelling evidence of a very varied type regarding this case (…) This is not a concluded investigation, but a vital step has been taken in these hours,” Interior Minister Carolina Tohá said at the same press conference. .

The deadliest wave of fires

Tohá assured that the investigation will make it possible to elucidate “how a person who is in that institution had behaviors of this type” and asked that the case “not tarnish the function and recognition that (the Fire Department) has in Chilean society.”

At the beginning of February, Chile experienced the deadliest wave of fires in its history, which became the worst tragedy since the 2010 earthquake.

The fire started on February 2 in the morning in four simultaneous outbreaks in the Lake Peñuelas Natural Park and spread quickly due to the strong gusts of wind and extreme temperatures of the last week to the hills surrounding the city of Viña del Mar and also jumped to the towns of Quilpué and Villa Alemana, all located in the Valparaíso region.

The high population density in difficult-to-access terrain, added to the prolonged drought in Chile, made extinction tasks difficult.

The regional governor, Rodrigo Mundaca, recalled in statements to the media that the authorities suspected the intention of the fire from the beginning and stressed that “losing 137 lives is irreparable damage and deserves the maximum punishment.”

“All of us from Viñamarinos knew that this had been an intentional attack,” said the mayor of Viña del Mar, Macarena Ripamonti.

jc (efe, afp)

Death and destruction in Valparaíso

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