Fire shuts down busy highway in Chile

Fire shuts down busy highway in Chile

01 January 2014

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Chile — A forest fire on Tuesday forced Chilean police to shut down one of the main roads linking this capital with the coastal city of Valparaiso, aggravating a New Year’s Eve traffic crush.

The National Emergency Office, or Onemi, declared a maximum alert in the area of the fire, located on the Pacific about 120 kilometers (75 miles) northwest of Santiago.

Strong winds threaten to spread the blaze into the nearby Lago Peñuelas National Reserve, a U.N.-designated biosphere reserve, Onemi said.

The Santiago-Valparaiso road, Route 68, crosses the reserve.

While hundreds of Valparaiso-bound drivers turned around when they entered the zone of the fire, others braved the smoke to push on toward the coast.

Valparaiso’s spectacular midnight fireworks display attracts nearly a million visitors to the city on New Year’s Eve.

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