A major wildfire is sweeping through the Pacific coastal city of Valparaiso, Chile which has so far left 16 dead and has consumed at least 500 homes. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said early Sunday that over 1,200 firefighters are at work to contain the wind-whipped flames in Valparaiso and in the suburb of Vina del Mar, with air support from 17 planes.
According to Chile's National Emergency Office, the wind has made it difficult for firefighters to establish firebreaks, and the blaze has spread over 2,000 acres. Vina del Mar fire superintendent Fernando Reseio commented, "It's been one of the worst fires in history." Emergency Office spokesman Ricardo Toro stated that Valparaiso is on red alert.
Here is a clip of raw footage taken of the fire consuming a Valparaiso neighborhood:
Similar to the recent situation facilitated by a magnitude 8.2 earthquake that hit the Chilean city of Iquique in early April, President Bachelet has dispatched additional authorities to the Valparaiso area to maintain order. The additional force will help to control looting, and to secure on any convicts that might attempt escape from the Valparaiso prison amid the chaos.
Valparaiso Mayor Jorge Castro said that as a preventative measure, plans are likewise being put together to evacuate inmates at the prison. Also, President Bachelet has declared a state of emergency, which allows for military force, if needed.
Below are some surreal images of the blaze, via Twitter:
— Gigi Graciette (@GigiGraciette) April 13, 2014
PHOTO via Reuters: Fire leaves 8 dead, 500 houses destroyed in Valparaiso, Chile pic.twitter.com/q5DRm0dHVe
— ABS-CBN News Channel (@ANCALERTS) April 13, 2014
— RT (@RT_com) April 13, 2014
Many survivors have suffered burns in the fire, and those critical are being transported to hospitals in the Chilean capital of Santiago, roughly 50 miles away.
Image via YouTube