Fire in Chile burns hundreds of homes

Chile fire
The fire in Valparaiso, Chile burns structures. Credit: GlobalLeaks.

(Originally published at 12:40 a.m. MDT, April 13, 2014)

UPDATED at 4:23 p.m. MDT, April 14, 2014)

In this video Nick Wiltgen of the Weather Channel explains how winds and geography are affecting the fire.

Below, are before and after photos of a portion of the fire area at Valparaiso.

(UPDATED at 11:25 a.m. MDT, April 14, 2014)

Continued strong winds are preventing firefighters from gaining control of the fire in Valparaiso, Chile. The latest information is that at least 12 people have been killed, 500 injured, and about 2,000 homes have burned.

Some of the communities affected do not have municipal water infrastructure or fire hydrants, and the streets are too narrow for fire engines.

“We are too vulnerable as a city. We have been the builders and architects of our own danger,” Valparaiso Mayor Jorge Castro said Sunday in an interview with Chile’s 24H channel.

NPR’s Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reported:

To contain the blaze, some 20 helicopters have been dumping water on the fires. But in some areas, fire crews have been able to do little other than watch buildings burn and hope the flames don’t spread farther.

The blaze began on Saturday in a forested ravine and has spread quickly — destroying whole areas and pushed on by hot winds. Schools in the city are closed today as many are overflowing with evacuees.

From latino.foxnews.com:

It was already the city’s worst fire since 1953, when 50 people were killed. [President Michelle] Bachelet declared the entire city a catastrophe zone and put the military in charge of maintaining order. Some 1,250 firefighters, police and forest rangers battled the blaze while 2,000 sailors in combat gear patrolled streets to maintain order and prevent looting.

Chile’s emergency response system generated automatic phone calls to each house in danger as the mandatory evacuations expanded. Many people stuffed their cars with possessions after getting these calls, and streets quickly became impassible. Water trucks and firefighters were stuck downhill as people abandoned their vehicles and ran. Some carried television sets and others took canisters of natural gas, fearing an explosion if flames reached their homes.

(UPDATED at 9:35 a.m. MDT, April 13, 2014)

Incredible photos of the fire are on the Daily Mail website.

The Guardian reports that seven people have died in the fire in Chile, 500 homes have been destroyed, and 5,000 residents evacuated. CNN’s article said 11 have died, 500 homes have burned, and 3,000 people evacuated in front of the 2,000-acre fire. You can see live reports about the fire on CNN Chile.

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A vegetation fire in Chile has burned hundreds of homes and forced thousands of residents to evacuate. Reports on the number of destroyed structures in the city of Valparaiso vary from 150 to 500. CNN reports that a prison in the city that houses 2,000 inmates will be evacuated.

President Michelle Bachelet declared Valparaiso to be a catstrophe zone, which allows the military to maintain order and handle the evacuations.

Strong winds are pushing the fire and hampering the efforts of the 500 firefighters from seven provinces that are fighting the blaze.

 

Thanks and a hat tip go out to Barbara.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills. Google+

3 thoughts on “Fire in Chile burns hundreds of homes”

  1. Absolutely stunning! In the worst sense of the word. 1000’s of houses tightly packed together … inadequate water & resources …

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