Large wildfire engulfs Valparaiso, Chile


A massive wildfire engulfed the Chilean port city of Valparaiso on January 2, 2017. At least 100 homes have been destroyed, more than 400 people were evacuated and 19 injured. City authorities have issued a maximum red alert.

The blaze broke out in the Laguna Verde area and spread to Playa Ancha hill near Valparaiso on Monday, January 2, 2017.

As of early January 3 (UTC), there are 4 active forest fires in the Valparaiso region. Fires in Parcela Regimiento Maipo, Bucalemu, Basural El Molle and Quepilcho have been affecting respectively 40 ha (99 acres), 1 200 ha (2 965 acres), 10 ha (24.7 acres) and 7 ha (17.3 acres) of land.

The Regional Intendente of Valparaiso declared a red alert for the Casablanca "comuna" on January 2. A total of 400 people have been evacuated, including from a camping zone.

According to local media, around 100 houses have been burned in the Puertas Negras community. At 22:00 local time, firefighters and CONAF (forest service) informed that the fire has been contained in the area.

The mayor of Valparaiso, Jorge Sharp, requested soap, towels and toilet paper for the Polideportivo de Playa Ancha sports camp, which shelters 30 people. Other affected families are sheltered by relatives. Donations such as water, milk and diapers are being requested and distributed through various organizations and municipalities, ECHO reports.

Authorities said the blaze was fueled by strong winds up to 30 km/h (25 mph), low humidity and high temperatures. It was also blamed on poor sanitation as trash deposited in small ravines that run throughout Valparaiso helped feed it.

"We don't have any way to prevent people from throwing trash into Valparaiso's gullies," deputy interior minister Mahmud Aleuy said. "We insist that it's not just the civil system that has to do preventative work. People have to do it too."

The government said an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire. Sharp called the state to come up with an overall plan to deal with these kinds of situations.

Video courtesy T13

Video courtesy Euronews

Drought in Chile has caused a record number of forest fires in 2015, wreaking havoc on Chile's key forestry.

13 people were killed and more than 2 000 homes burned when a much larger forest fire hit the city in 2014. Many blazes have since hit Valparaiso with fires in March 2015 claiming the life of one woman and forcing 4 500 to evacuate.

Located 120 km (75 miles) northwest of the capital, Santiago, the colonial city of Valparaiso is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Featured image: Wildfires engulf Valparaiso, Chile – January 2, 2017. Credit: ~N̷3̷V̷3̷r̷M̷O̷R̷3̷~

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