DICHATO, Chile, 31 January 2017 (Associated Press) – Strong winds are continuing to stoke the flames of raging wildfires in Chile, forcing the evacuation of more than 800 families in the coastal town of Dichato.
Firefighters and residents fought the fast-spreading blazes on the ground Tuesday, while a Russian supertanker plane and a Brazilian Hercules have dumped thousands of gallons of water on the area 290 miles (470 kilometers) southwest of the Chilean capital.
A Boeing 747-400 supertanker from the United States also assisted local emergency crews Tuesday.
The fires have consumed forests, livestock and entire towns, prompting President Michelle Bachelet to declare a state of emergency, deploy troops and ask for international help.
In all, more than 20,000 people, including firefighters and experts from more than a dozen countries, have battled wildfires that Bachelet has called the worst forest disaster in Chile’s history. At least 11 deaths have been blamed on the fires.
The national forestry agency says the blazes have destroyed nearly 904,000 acres (366,000 hectares) since Jan. 15. [more]
By Mauricio Cuevas And Esteban Felix
31 January 2017
CONCEPCION, Chile (Associated Press) – Flames from more than 100 raging wildfires in Chile continued spreading from the mountains to the Pacific coast, destroying forests, livestock and entire towns in a destructive path that is now dangerously close to the city of Concepcion.
Authorities said they found a body Friday, raising the overall death toll to 11. About 118 fires remain active and 53 of those are contained.
Officials were hopeful that light rains and lower temperatures would provide some relief. But the flames picked up near two residential condominiums in the city of Concepcion, about 310 miles (500 kilometers) from the capital of Santiago. Residents of one of the condominiums, which is located behind a hill of pines, used garden hoses to wet the streets while firefighters arrived and contained the flames.
President Michelle Bachelet has called the wildfires the worst forest disaster in Chile's history.
The forestry agency, CONAF, said the blazes have destroyed nearly 890,000 acres (360,000 hectares) since November. Most of it has been consumed over the past two weeks. [more]