A boy and his boat help Chilean firefighters put out a fire.


© Reuters. Lucas Cespedes, 13, paddles during an interview with Reuters, near his house on the banks of the Futa River, outside Valdivia, Chile February 9, 2023. REUTERS/Cristobal Saavedra Escobar


By Cristobal Saavedra

RIO FUTA, Chile (Reuters) – As parents battle wildfires threatening their home in southern Chile, 13-year-old Lucas Cespedes decides to take action, sending firefighters across the local river in a jet small yellow rowboat to help them put out the fire. fire.

The Andean nation is battling some of its worst wildfires in years that have claimed 24 lives and burned more than 340,000 hectares (840,158 acres), affected more than 5,400 people and destroyed more than a thousand house.

“I’m taking people across the river because I’m desperate, my parents are fighting a fire and I’m so scared the fire will spread to my house,” said Cespedes, who lives with his family in an area that is only accessible by water. said.

“There’s no one else who can carry people, so the only hope is me.”

Cespedes rowed firefighters 30 meters (98 ft) of the Futa River, a mighty waterway in southern Chile near the city of Valdivia, about 1,000 kilometers (621 mi) south of the capital, Santiago. He continued to do so when the fire broke out.

“Now I keep helping, I keep getting people across the river, bringing in the firefighters,” Cespedes added.

The fires are concentrated in the agricultural and forestry regions of south-central Chile and come amid a drought that has lasted more than a decade that has affected agriculture, cityscapes and mining in the country no. 1 world. 1 manufacturer.

Climate change increases heat and dryness, causing fires to spread faster, burn longer, and become more intense.

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