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Fire ravages Valparaiso, sends people fleeing for their lives

Fire ravages Valparaiso, sends people fleeing for their lives
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By Robert Hackwill
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An evacuation is underway as a large fire threatens a poor outlying district in the coastal Chilean city of Valparaiso.

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A large fire has burnt out a neighbourhood in the Chilean city of Valparaiso, destroying at least 100 homes and forcing the evacuation of about 400 people.

Both sides of life can be shocking sometime #Valparaisopic.twitter.com/X57ygFhixZ

— Esteban Beltramin (@beltramin_e) January 3, 2017

Another 500 homes are at risk.

Firefighters from nearly 50 city and surrounding municipal brigades have been deployed.

Already-poor people have been desperately scrambling to save what they can from their homes as the smoke billows in the sky above them. Fridges, televisions and furniture pile up in the streets, but have to be abandoned as the flames advance. People are losing everything but the clothes on their backs.

Ministra de Vivienda: “Importa contener el fuego y albergar a las familias” https://t.co/5VPapPnEjFpic.twitter.com/cHjUJMe9ai

— soychile.cl (@soychilecl) January 3, 2017

Chile is in the longest drought in its history, with some regions rain-free for the last six years. Gusting winds and high temperatures helped the fire to spread quickly, which also fed on trash dumped in the hilly city outskirts’ many ravines.

In 2014, a significantly larger fire killed 13 people and burned 2,000 homes. There have been many smaller fires since.

[FOTOS Y VIDEOS] Infierno en Valparaíso: el gobierno estima “al menos” unas 40 viviendas consumidas por el fuego https://t.co/uadNfRTrf0pic.twitter.com/LBQiAHxikf

— soyvalparaíso.cl (@soyvalparaiso) January 2, 2017

Mayor Jorge Sharp went on television to call for state assistance and stress the vulnerability of the city’s outlying areas.

Acabamos de estar en el comando operativo en terreno. Bomberos nos señala que el incendio está controlado y en proceso de extinción. pic.twitter.com/yjvNQbgVvK

— Jorge Sharp Fajardo (@JorgeSharp) January 3, 2017

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