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Argentina's Bariloche sends plume of smoke into the sky as fires rage

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By Euronews  with AFP
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Smoke billows from a huge forest fire seen from Route 40, in Paraje Villegas, Rio Negro Province, 70 km south of Bariloche, Argentina, on December 24, 2021.
Smoke billows from a huge forest fire seen from Route 40, in Paraje Villegas, Rio Negro Province, 70 km south of Bariloche, Argentina, on December 24, 2021.   -   Copyright  FRANCISCO RAMOS MEJIA / AFP

Some 250 firefighters and national park employees battled blazes in Argentina's Patagonia region which have destroyed thousands of hectares of forest, authorities said.

Fires are raging in high-altitude, little populated forest areas of the southern provinces of Rio Negro, Chubut, and Neuquen.

Some of the fires are as much as 300 kilometres apart. No casualties have been reported so far since Friday.

The fires forced the evacuation of families ahead of Christmas in Bariloche, in the province of Río Negro.

Argentina's environment ministry said the firefighting effort was complicated by difficult terrain, distances between blazes, wind, high temperatures, and dry vegetation in the midst of a drought.

Fires in the Patagonian summer are a common occurrence.

Last year, tens of thousands of hectares of forest were destroyed in fires in Argentina.