On December 27, 2011, a fire that was started by human negligence in the southern section of Torres del Paine quickly spread, exacerbated by the bone-dry conditions and strong winds. The Chilean government has been criticized for its slow and inadequate response; by the time the blaze was finally brought under control, over 130 square kilometres of forest had been destroyed. An Israeli tourist was detained on suspicion of accidentally causing the fire; he denied responsibility and there is some evidence that pressure may have been put on him to make a confession.
Sadly, the incident has exacerbated the anti-Israeli sentiment among some Patagonians, and the suspect was subjected to racial abuse as he was led to court. However, the majority of Puerto Natales citizens have responded in a constructive manner; in a bid to protect the park from future damage, there will now be compulsory talks on park safety at the Laguna Amarga entrance to Torres del Paine, as well as volunteer patrols in the park. It remains to be seen whether the Chilean government will fund a permanent ranger patrol.
On January 4, 2012, the Chilean government reopened eighty percent of the park to visitors; at the time of writing, Refugio Grey, Paine Grande Lodge, and the Guardas, Paso, Carretas, Italiano and Británico campsites were closed but to reopen in expected course.