Skip to main content

12 dead in Chile wildfire; 2,000 homes consumed

By Nelson Quinones and Matt Smith, CNN
updated 5:53 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
A person walks through the burnt remains of a hill Tuesday, April 15, after a wildfire burned through areas of Valparaiso, Chile. Authorities say the fire in Valparaiso and the suburb of Vina del Mar destroyed hundreds of homes, claimed several lives and forced thousands to evacuate. A person walks through the burnt remains of a hill Tuesday, April 15, after a wildfire burned through areas of Valparaiso, Chile. Authorities say the fire in Valparaiso and the suburb of Vina del Mar destroyed hundreds of homes, claimed several lives and forced thousands to evacuate.
HIDE CAPTION
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
Chile wildfire
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Strong winds are fanning the flames in Valparaiso
  • 500 firefighters from seven provinces are battling the fire, but wind is complicating efforts
  • Chilean President Michelle Bachelet declared a state of emergency

(CNN) -- Chile poured firefighters and police into the battle against a wildfire that swept through hundreds of homes in the Pacific coastal city of Valparaiso, leaving at least 12 dead, according to an official.

Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo reported at least 2,000 homes had been destroyed by the blaze, leaving some 8,000 people without a place to live.

Earlier, Chile's National Emergency Office's website, citing police, had said that at least 16 people were dead. It was not immediately clear why the reported death tolls were different.

More than 1,200 firefighters worked to control the wind-whipped blaze in Valparaiso and the suburb of Vina del Mar, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said Sunday.

The wind hampered firefighters' ability to create firebreaks, and the blaze had spread to more than 2,000 acres, Penailillo said.

Intense fire scorches Chile neighborhood

"It's been one of the worst fires in history," said Fernando Reseio, the fire superintendent in Vina del Mar.

Bachelet said the firefighters were backed up by 17 aircraft and that additional police were being brought in to prevent looting in the areas abandoned by their residents. Many of the survivors suffered burns, and the most seriously burned patients were being transferred to hospitals in the capital, Santiago, about 75 miles away, the president said.

In images broadcast by CNN sister network CNN Chile, residents could be seen fleeing the flames overnight. The network reported that the sweeping fire is endangering thousands more homes.

In addition, plans were being drawn up to evacuate inmates at Valparaiso prison as a preventive measure, Mayor Jorge Castro said. The city is under a red alert, said emergency office spokesman Ricardo Toro.

Earlier, Bachelet had declared a state of emergency, which legally allows armed forces to get involved.

CNN's Michael Roa and Ben Brumfield contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:17 PM EDT, Tue July 29, 2014
While aspects of the fighting in Gaza resemble earlier clashes, this time feels different, writes military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 8:45 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
The death of an American from Ebola fuels fears of the further global spread of the virus.
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Nearly two weeks after MH17 was blown out of the sky, Dutch investigators have yet to lay eyes on the wreckage. How useful will it be now?
updated 8:56 PM EDT, Tue July 29, 2014
The U.S. and EU are imposing new sanctions on Moscow -- but will they have any effect?
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT