TEHRAN, March 15, YJC - Around 6,000 people have been forced from their homes in Chile as firefighters struggle to contain a massive blaze sweeping through forests in central parts of the country.
TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club
(YJC) - Emergency officials said Monday that more than a dozen dwellings had been destroyed in the forested areas of Vina del Mar, a popular resort area in Valparaiso region, located about 120 kilometers west of the capital Santiago.
Ricardo Toro, the director of the National Office of Emergencies of the Interior Ministry (ONEMI), said no one was killed or injured in the blaze, but added that hundreds of poor families were forced to leave their illegally-built houses of wood and tin.
Troops were deployed to help people carry their personal belongings in vehicles as forest brigades and firefighters fought the blaze, which tore through 230 hectares in a matter of a few hours.
Chile’s forest fires are mostly triggered by human activity while strong winds and soaring temperatures normally help the blaze expand through the country’s parched forests during the southern hemisphere's summer.
Officials said they had launched an investigation into the cause of the fire in Vina del Mar.
Classes were suspended for Monday as families, who lost their homes and were being housed in shelters, could not reach schools.
Firefighting would continue Monday with additional brigades and helicopters, authorities said. Vina del Mar and Valparaiso were put on alert as there was fear that flames could reach camps sheltering people, Presstv reported.
Fire activity was anticipated in central Chile this year due to a drought attributed by environmentalists to climate change.
Eleven people were killed earlier this year in the south of the country, where forest fires destroyed large swaths of land.