Chile — A wildfire ripped through a Chilean city on Sunday after killing at least four people and consuming more than 500 homes, officials said.
At least one more person has been injured in the flames that have swept over at least 660 acres, said Chile’s National Emergency Office (ONEMI).
Strong winds fanned the flames into the city of Valparaiso on the Pacific coast, ONEMI said. A Google Earth map of the fires showed some of them burning roughly two miles away from the adjacent city of Vina del Mar.
More than 500 firefighters from seven provinces, some in helicopters, battled the fire, an official said. But the wind hampered their efforts to create firebreaks.
“It’s been one of the worst fires in history,” said Vina del Mar fire superintendent, Fernando Reseio, who has been a firefighter for 30 years.
Many rows of flames could be seen blazing through houses in the urban area located about 50 miles from the capital Santiago.
There were also plans to evacuate inmates at Valparaiso prison as a preventive measure, mayor Jorge Castro said.
Valparaiso is under a red alert, said ONEMI spokesmand Ricardo Toro.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet declared a state of emergency, which legally allows armed forces to get involved.
It took the fire just six hours to devour the homes. In images broadcast by CNN sister network CNN Chile, residents could be seen fleeing the flames.
The network reported that the sweeping fire is endangering thousands of homes.
Authorities have evacuated more than 3,000 residents.