The massive fire that raged through the picturesque coastal city of Valparaiso, Chile has left at least 16 people dead, 10,000 evacuated, and 500 homes destroyed, the latest news reports reveal.
On Saturday, a fire started in one of the city’s many hilltops and quickly spread with the help of strong winds, jumping from hillside to hillside and consuming 660 acres, Valparaiso Police Chief Julio Pineda told 24 Horas television station.
Valparaiso, Chile is one of the most important port cities in the South American nation and a very popular summer vacation destination, along with Viña del Mar, another tourist destination located nearby on the Pacific Coast.
President Michelle Bachelet arrived in the Chilean port city to survey the extensive damage first hand and stated, “it is a terrible tragedy, without doubt the worst fire in the history of Valparaiso”, according to AFP.
News of the fire in Chile broke on a slow Saturday evening with scenes of incredible destruction hitting social media sites, as firefighters attempted to halt the flames:
— Ed Joyce (@EdJoyce) April 13, 2014
Deadly forest fire ravages Chilean port city of Valparaiso http://t.co/ZeA2RP7HSe pic.twitter.com/kwuQPyuu8i
— Circa (@Circa) April 13, 2014
— Mashable (@mashable) April 13, 2014
The daylight reveals the true scope of the fire that devastated one of Chile’s largest cities:
Chile pulls together to help #valparaiso fire victims. Solidarity as nation stunned by scenes of destruction. pic.twitter.com/7SzdjgcrUn
— Jonathan Franklin (@FranklinBlog) April 13, 2014
— Ms. Waldorf (@LMSWaldorf) April 13, 2014
President Bachelet has declared a state of emergency to allow the military to help firefighters battling the blaze, which was still smoldering in Sunday’s morning hours.
The fire affected some of the poorest areas of Valparaiso, as authorities have put out warnings regarding drinking water. Many power outages have also been reported following news of the massive fire in Chile.
The port city — which is known for its colorful buildings — was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003.
More than 1,200 firefighters were being assisted by 2,000 sailors who are keeping order in the streets to prevent looting.
The latest news in the Valparaiso, Chile fire indicates that authorities do not know the reason for the blaze at this time, as authorities expect the death toll to rise sharply when crews finally get to the affected area.
[Image via Sky Alert Storm/Twitter]