By Augusto Scarella Arce/Diálogo February 02, 2017 Chile has been ravaged by a series of wildfires since January 11th, with 142 disasters declared in different regions of the country’s center and south to date. Chile’s president, Michelle Bachelet, responded by issuing decrees declaring several states of emergency, which under the country’s constitution set in motion a set of measures aimed at overcoming the public disaster besetting a large swath of the country. From the beginning of this emergency, General Arturo Merino Núñez, director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (EMCO, per its Spanish acronym), has continuously deployed units from the Emergency Operations Center to maintain precise control and coordination of the defensive measures employed to combat the wildfires. “This effort by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with the direct consultation of the Ministry of Defense, will remain available 24 hours a day for as long as needed,” Gen. Merino said. National response More than 8,000 members of the Armed Forces are providing emergency assistance, having fought 77 wildfires to date. Of the total wildfires, covering nearly 300,000 hectares, 51 have been brought under control and 14 have been extinguished. Almost 300 vehicles, including all types of tanker and transport equipment, have been flown to the affected areas by the Chilean Air Force. Additionally, 25 planes have been brought in by the Chilean Armed Forces, which together with 18 other government organizations are working to assist members of the National Forestry Service (CONAF, per its Spanish acronym) brigades and firefighters. The national defense is also fighting fires directly through the Army Forest Fire Reinforcement Brigades, with units that provide nationwide coverage and that enjoy autonomy in deployment and logistics. Minister of Defense José Antonio Gómez made another visit to the affected areas on January 25th, accompanied by Rear Admiral Jorge Rodriguez Urria, EMCO’s chief of Operations and Joint Administration, to coordinate the military’s actions on the ground. The minister was clear and quite specific about the aid from military institutions: “They will work night and day to restore conditions that will allow rebuilding from the destruction caused by a fire of an intensity never before seen in this country.” Partner nations step in with support On January 26th, authorities met at the airport with a group of 29 Colombian brigade members who voluntarily came to help. The United States also responded very rapidly to the difficult situation Chileans are experiencing. The U.S. Agency for International Development, through its Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) donated $100 million to the non-governmental organization Caritas Chile for the local acquisition and delivery of firefighting equipment, such as power saws and weather monitoring tools requested by the Chilean National Forestry Service. “A team from the U.S. Forestry Service and USAID/OFDA is being deployed in Chile. It is made up of emergency personnel and staff with technical expertise in fighting forest fires,” said Nicole Gallagher, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Chile. On January 27th and 28th, fire brigade members from Mexico also arrived. There is a total of 609 firefighters from Argentina, Colombia, the United States, Panama, Peru, and Mexico, among other countries, fighting the flames with their Chilean counterparts. For its part, on January 29th, Brazil’s Air Force (FAB, per its Portuguese acronym) deployed two C-130 aircraft to support Chile in combatting the forest fires. Operated by the First Troop Transport Group, the aircraft arrived in Chile with 28 service members on board. “The crew follows the guidelines provided by ONEMI [Chilean Ministry of Interior’s National Office for Emergency], and the CONAF [National Forestry Corporation], who are responsible for coordinating the international aid, and it will be distributed to the place they will operate from,” explained FAB Colonel Paulo Cesar Andari, military attaché for the Brazilian Air Force in Chile, according to information from FAB. Likewise, the Peruvian Air Force transported 55 firefighters from the Civil Defense Institute and a 212 Bell helicopter aboard an L-100-20 Hercules and a C-27J Spartan aircraft from the Eighth Air Group, to help Chile fight the forest fires, according to information from defense news website Defensa.com.
GREG DIXON/Herald photoEVANSTON, Ill.–The season is over for the Wisconsin women’s soccer team. Following a devastating 3-0 loss to Northwestern, Wisconsin has been eliminated from Big Ten tournament consideration.Coming into Friday’s matchup, Wisconsin needed a win to keep its postseason hopes alive. Northwestern, on the other hand, had already secured a tournament berth with a 3-0 victory over Iowa.It was the Wildcats who came out looking like the team that was facing a must-win situation. In contrast, the Badgers played like a team that had run out of gas after beating the Iowa Hawkeyes 2-0 a week ago.“For me, [the loss] is extremely disappointing,” head coach Paula Wilkins said. “I think your entire season is based on what you do in the postseason — not to make the Big Ten tournament is a major wake-up call to myself and to the players.“There are a lot of things that this program needs to do better,” Wilkins added. “We cannot leave it down to one game like this.”Offensively for Northwestern, senior Shannon Schneeman netted her team-leading ninth goal of the season and eventual game-winner in the 31st minute.The Wildcats kept the pressure on the Badgers late in the first half as freshman Sam Greene tallied her first goal of the season in the 41st minute.Northwestern’s other senior offensive leader — Kelsey Hans — would not be outdone by Schneeman.Hans added the Wildcats’ third and final goal in the 52nd minute — her ninth goal of the season — with a spectacular shot off the crossbar.“[Northwestern] had three great finishes. The third goal, that was a great shot,” Wilkins said. “They were dynamic, and they brought a lot of emotion; they looked like one of the best teams I have seen in recent years.”Despite allowing three goals, Wilkins praised senior goalkeeper Lynn Murray for her play Friday night.“[Lynn] played quite well; I think she did everything she could,” Wilkins said. “Even with the three goals, I was impressed. With the shots that they had, I don’t think many people could have gotten to those.”Wisconsin never seemed to get in rhythm offensively as the team once again struggled to create scoring opportunities. Overall, the Badgers were outshot 16-7 by the Wildcats. Further, they only managed to post three shots on goal while the Wildcats tallied eight.“I think we worry too much about playing defense and trying to have people back there so that the other team does not create opportunities,” junior forward Taylor Walsh said. “When we do get chances to go forward there are not enough people going forward to make anything happen.”Senior Shannon Terry also noted that Wisconsin’s inability to create scoring opportunities often stems from its concentration on defensive play.“I think our forwards need to have more confidence in our defense rather than thinking ‘I have to go back and help,’” Terry said. “We should remember that Birdie [Leibham] or [Lauren] Rud[zinski] or whoever, can take care of themselves and they don’t need us to come back and help.”Friday’s loss was an emotional and shocking one for Terry and her fellow seniors as it marked the end of their careers in the cardinal and white.The Badgers graduate six seniors — Madison natives Ann Eshun and Katy Meuer, goalkeeper Lynn Murray, defender Lauren Rudzinski, midfielder Marissa Sarkesian and Terry, a forward.“I am really upset,” an emotional Terry said of the loss. “I am kind of in between crying and shock right now. I am really shocked; I cannot believe it is over — I have to be a real person now.”Walsh, who took a medical redshirt her freshman season, started her career with Eshun, Meuer, Murray and Terry. After the loss, Walsh will no longer share the field with her fellow classmates.“I will cry for like 30 seconds and then it will go away and then I will cry again,” Walsh said. “I don’t know what I am going to do without these girls. I cannot imagine playing without them.”As the Badgers transition into the offseason, the team will continue to focus on details as it has the entire season. Additionally, Wilkins plans to put the team through an extensive conditioning program.“We are going to start back with the basics,” Wilkins said. “We need to pick up the tempo and demand more out of players. I think we need to get better with fitness and with the whole spring ahead of us that is going to be our complete and utter focus.”