Chile Battles Forest Fires in Viña Del Mar

BARRIO – Firefighters battled last week to contain a massive wildfire around the city of Viña del Mar in the Greater Valparaíso region on Chile’s Pacific coast. Early estimates suggest more than 400 houses have burned as the fire rages over 110 hectares, or 270 acres, according to the country’s fire department.

At least one person was reported dead by 24 Horas, a news channel run by Chile’s public broadcaster.

Gabriel Boric, Chile’s president, decreed a state of catastrophe and said in a tweet that authorities were prioritizing people’s safety.

In a video shared by the fire department, the sky is illuminated by bright orange plumes of fire, while another video taken from a height shows the city and homes framed by billowing smoke.

Viña del Mar is a picturesque town, popular among tourists for its majestic palaces and a sprawling beach.

Photos of the rescue operations showed firefighters attempting to douse flames engulfing a house with a water pipe. Hundreds of rescuers are engaged, the department said. It asked residents to evacuate quickly if orders are issued.

In Chile, mid-December is considered peak fire season, according to Global Forest Watch, which monitors forest fires.

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