As we pass the halfway point of 2017, we stop to take a look at major fire events of 2017 that have captured headlines and impacted ongoing discussions of fire protection and life safety around the world.
1. Chile Wildfires
January 20, 2017 | Central and Southern Chile
Major fires in Chile destroyed roughly 385,000 acres in central and southern Chile where strong winds, hot temperatures and a lack of rain prolonged a firefight that lasted over two weeks . The blaze has claimed over 1,000 homes, 11 lives, and has led to a state of emergency with some international firefighting aid . President Michelle Bachelet: "We have never seen anything on this scale, never in the history of Chile" .
More Reading: Al Jazeera, CNN, The Telegraph
5. Portuguese Wildfires
June 18, 2017 | Central Portugal
An apparent lighting strike is believed to have started a blaze that has reportedly killed as many as 70 people in Portugal . Many of the victims were found fleeing the fires in vehicles as a result of 'dry thunderstorms', where water evaporates before reaching the ground due to high temperatures . Although wildfires are not necessarily unusual, the death toll and spread of the fire was unique and likely aided by high temperatures and lack of precipitation in the area .
More Reading: BBC, CNN, Independent, NBC
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Joseph Meyer, PE, is a Fire Protection Engineer in St. Louis, Missouri. See bio on About page.