More than 100 homes have been destroyed after a wildfire spread to the outskirts of the Chilean port city of Valparaiso on Tuesday.
The inferno began in a forested area along hills overlooking the city, before spreading to a poor neighborhood. Dozens of families fled their homes, leaving pets and belongings behind.
More than a quarter of the port city’s population of 330,000 has been hit by power outages.
Chilean Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel said that 15 forest brigades, 62 fire brigades and eight aircraft have been deployed to battle the blaze.
Agriculture Minister Antonio Walker told local media that the situation “is not easy” and it is “very complicated because of the wind.”
It is not unknown for Valparaiso to suffer from fires at this time of year, often fueled by high summer temperatures and strong winds.
A helicopter drops water in an effort to contain the blazes. In total, 62 fire brigades and 8 aircraft have been deployed to help combat the flames
President offers support
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera expressed his support to both the people and the authorities trying to control the inferno.
“We deeply regret the fire that affects so many families in the hills of Valparaiso and especially on Christmas Eve,” he wrote on Twitter.
In 2017 Chile experienced wildfires that killed at least 11 people, including five firefighters. The fire devastated the town of Santa Olga in the central Maule Region, 25 kilometers (16 miles) inland from Valparaiso. Thousands of people were displaced.
Valparaiso has become a popular tourist destination in recent years, primarily due to its alternative lifestyle, as well as an array of colorful wood-frame houses.
jsi/cw (AP, Reuters, dpa, EFE)