Chile wildfire forces thousands to evacuate

A wildfire on Chile’s central coast over the weekend forced thousands to evacuate and burned hundreds of hectares of grassland and forest.

The blaze started on Sunday (March 12) in the region of Vina del Mar, consuming some 400 hectares (1.5 square miles) of trees and scrubland and destroying some 16 homes.

Residents joined firefighters to fight the flames and one man said they’d made some progress.

“At least we have cut a little of the fire and at least the flames aren’t advancing as much,” he said.

According to authorities, some 6,000 residents were evacuated as firefighters battled the fire from land and air.

Deployments included thirteen aircraft, 37 water trucks, 150 teams from Chile’s forestry service, 300 firefighters and 221 police officers.

Vina del Mar Police Chief Hernan Otaiza said officers in one neighborhood have provided support to local residents.

“Yesterday, more than 100 officers took care of this area and mainly, they gave support to these families and everyone—peace,” he said.

Another resident, Delia Lazo, said that everyone was joining the effort.

“Everyone is supporting each other, everyone is coming out. Even I went out with a hoe, trying to fight the fire with everyone and all that—but nothing could be done,” she said.

Teams continued to battle the blaze on Monday (March 13).

Authorities said no deaths or injuries have been reported.