- Title: Historic Chilean forest fires ravage homes, lives
- Date: 25th January 2017
- Summary: NIRIVILO, CHILE (JANUARY 24, 2017) (REUTERS) SMOKE OVER ROAD SUN THROUGH SMOKE EMERGENCY VEHICLES ON ROAD FLAMES IN TREES SMOKE OVER TREES ON HILLSIDE RESIDENTS AND CARS ON SIDE OF STREET IN EVACUATION EFFORT RESIDENTS IN PICKUP TRUCK SMOKE OVER TREES VARIOUS OF FLAMES IN BRUSH CARS ON ROAD IN DARKNESS NIRIVILO, CHILE (JANUARY 25, 2017) (REUTERS) SMOKE BLOWING OFF SMOULDERING ASHES FIRE VICTIM, FRANCISCO ABEL, POURING WATER ON SMOULDERING ASHES ASHES AND DESTROYED HOME OF ABEL (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) FIRE VICTIM, FRANCISCO ABEL, SAYING: "The center came to this side, it hit very hard and all of a sudden, that part was on fire. It came through very fast. I managed to get two dogs, my father, and a horse that my father rode and we went up there." BURNED OUT TRACTOR SMOKEY CHILEAN FLAG VARIOUS OF DESTROYED HOME AND VEHICLES (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) UNIDENTIFIED FIRE VICTIM, SAYING: "It got here in seconds. In a second. And the wind blew and blew like a demon had entered the community." HUALANHE, CHILE (JANUARY 25, 2017) (REUTERS) GENERAL VIEW OF SMOKE OVER MOUNTAINSIDE SMOKE OVER FLATLANDS TREE ON FIRE SMOKE BLOWING FLAMES AND SMOKE HELICOPTER FLYING GENERAL VIEW OF FLAMES AND SMOKE
- Embargoed: 8th February 2017 23:01
- Keywords: Forest fires wildfires Michelle Bachelet destruction
- Location: NIRIVILO AND HUALANHE AND VICHUQUEN, MAULE REGION AND LOLOL, O'HIGGINS REGION AND ARTURO MERINO BENITEZ, METROPOLITAN REGION, CHILE
- City: NIRIVILO AND HUALANHE AND VICHUQUEN, MAULE REGION AND LOLOL, O'HIGGINS REGION AND ARTURO MERINO BENITEZ, METROPOLITAN REGION, CHILE
- Country: Chile
- Topics: Disaster/Accidents,Fires
- Reuters ID: LVA00160KXZD1
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:The worst wildfires in Chile's modern history are ravaging wide swaths of the country's central-south regions, as a massive Boeing 747-400 Super Tanker arrived on Wednesday (January 25) on loan from the United States to help extinguish the blazes.
Forest fires are a regular feature of Chile's hot, arid summers, but a nearly decade-long drought combined with historically high temperatures have created tinder-dry conditions.
International help from France, the United States, Peru and Mexico has been pouring into Chile as the fires swept through forested hills and into neighboring towns, scorching homes, industry and the region's world-renowned vineyards. The country last week declared a state of emergency.
As of Wednesday, 85 separate fires had been recorded, covering some 190,000 hectares (469,500 acres) - more than twice the area of New York City.
In the central town of Nirivilo, residents examined the destroyed remains of their homes after the fires swept through.
"The center came to this side, it hit very hard and all of a sudden, that part was on fire. It came through very fast. I managed to get two dogs, my father, and a horse that my father rode and we went up there," said victim Francisco Abel.
Another resident said the experience was hellish.
"It got here in seconds. In a second. And the wind blew and blew like a demon had entered the community," she said.
Chile's Conaf forestry service said that 35 of the fires were still out of control.
At least some of the fires may have been started intentionally and there had been a number of arrests in relation to ongoing investigations, said Bachelet.
Three firefighters were killed on Jan. 15 and another three gravely injured. Local media reported on Wednesday that another firefighter had died.
Chile's forest products industry, the country's second biggest by exports after copper mining, is led by Empresas Copec subsidiary Arauco, Empresas CMPC, and Masisa.
Chile, along the seismically-active Pacific Rim, is no stranger to natural disasters. It is often walloped by earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and strong storms.
As a result, its emergency response teams, building codes and residents are usually well-prepared to confront such situations. But the scale of this season's fires have overwhelmed authorities.
Earlier on Wednesday, Chileans welcomed the arrival of a massive Boeing 747-400 Super Tanker on loan from the United States to help extinguish the blazes.
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