A large number of fires have been raging in the country since Friday, and the most vulnerable are Viña del Mar and Valparaiso. President Gabriel Buric declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew in order to use all available resources to extinguish the fires. Many were also evacuated as the fires approached the cities.
“We as a government will be ready to help (local residents) get back on their feet,” President Buric told reporters after being flown by helicopter over the badly affected area.
A state of disaster was declared
As of Saturday afternoon local time, firefighters were still battling 29 fires while 40 fires were under control. It was reported earlier that more than 90 fires with a total area of 43,000 hectares were reported. Dry air and temperatures reaching 40 degrees make work difficult.
Macarena Ripamonte, Mayor of Vina del Mar, describes the situation as historically difficult.
– We are facing an unprecedented disaster, a situation of this kind that has never happened before in the Valparaiso region.
Rosanna Avendano, 63, from Viña del Mar, is one of all the people whose house was completely destroyed. She was not home when the fires broke out. However, her husband managed to escape from home.
She says that he was resting when he felt the heat of the fire and ran away.
Weather phenomena continue
The fires are fueling the heatwave and drought prevailing in southern parts of South America, partly due to the El Niño climate phenomenon. Scientists also warn that climate change is increasing the risk of extreme weather.
At the same time as Chile and Colombia battle rising temperatures, a heat wave threatens to continue in Paraguay and Brazil.
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