The occurrence of forest fires in Chile has resulted in numerous fatalities and extensive devastation.

The occurrence of forest fires in Chile has resulted in numerous fatalities and extensive devastation.

President Gabriel Boric has announced that a minimum of 46 individuals have lost their lives due to the ongoing forest fires in central Chile. He also cautioned that the number of casualties is expected to increase.

On Saturday, Chile’s interior minister, Carolina Tohá, reported that there are currently 92 forest fires in the central and southern regions of the country, where temperatures have been abnormally elevated. Over 1,000 homes have been demolished.

The most fatal fires occurred in Valparaíso, prompting officials to advise residents to remain in their homes to allow for easier access for emergency vehicles such as fire trucks and ambulances.

There was no information provided about the individuals who passed away.

According to her, two wildfires in the towns of Quilpué and Villa Alemana have scorched over 8,000 hectares (19,770 acres) since Friday. One of the fires is currently endangering the seaside destination of Viña del Mar, with certain neighborhoods already suffering significant damage.

burnt out hillside in Chile

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The area of Villa Independencia, located on the eastern outskirts of the city, experienced severe damage as several blocks of residences and establishments were completely demolished. The roads were filled with debris, including burnt vehicles with shattered windows, and covered in a layer of ash.

Rolando Fernández, one of the individuals whose home was destroyed, expressed disbelief at the situation, stating, “I have been living here for 32 years and never thought this could occur.” He recounted seeing the fire start on a nearby hill on Friday afternoon and within a short span of 15 minutes, the entire area was consumed by flames and smoke, prompting everyone to flee for their safety.

Fernández expressed, “I have dedicated my entire life to work, and now I have nothing.”

huge plume of smoke in the sky with man in foreground sitting on bare earth looking at itView image in fullscreen

According to Tohá, three shelters have been established in the Valparaíso region and over 450 firefighters along with 19 helicopters have been deployed to manage the fires. However, efforts are ongoing to access the worst-hit locations, according to the rescue teams.

The mountains where the fires are located are difficult to access and have impacted neighborhoods that were constructed in a precarious manner on the outskirts of Viña del Mar.

Authorities have indicated that power outages have occurred due to the blaze. Tohá stated that four hospitals and three nursing homes in the Valparaíso area were forced to evacuate. Additionally, two bus terminals were destroyed by the fire.

The current El Niño climate phenomenon in South America has resulted in dry conditions and higher temperatures, leading to an elevated threat of wildfires along the western coast. In the month of January, over 17,000 hectares (42,000 acres) of forests in Colombia were devastated by fires due to prolonged periods of drought.