The municipality of Vina del Mar, some 120 kilometers west of Santiago de Chile, has been under a catastrophic state of exception decree since last night due to a mega-fire that has caused one death, 30 injuries, 130 houses burned and hundreds of victims . The flames began this Thursday in a forest area, but the fire quickly reached the upper area of the tourist city, where there are informal populations, difficult to access. According to the Undersecretary of the Interior, Manuel Monsalve, the fire has consumed 130 hectares and its control is expected this Friday.
“I have instructed to decree a State of Constitutional Exception of Catastrophe to have all the necessary tools to fight the fires that affect Vina del Mar. We will not leave them alone,” President Gabriel Boric wrote at dawn. This morning, the president met with his Minister of the Interior, Carolina Toha, and Undersecretary Monsalve “to continue monitoring the emergency in Vina del Mar.” “All our efforts are put into controlling the fire and supporting the affected families, in coordination with local authorities,” added the head of state.
The flames threatened to burn Quinta Vergara, a park where the Vergara Palace is located, where works of art and objects of heritage value were removed last night. It is the venue where every Chilean summer the traditional song festival is held in this city. According to the National Forestry Corporation, CONAF, “there are some people identified at the starting points” of the mega-fire in Vina del Mar, so this information will be delivered to the Prosecutor’s Office and the Investigative Police, PDI.
This Friday morning three active areas of the incident remain, reported Undersecretary Monsalve, but it is a forest fire, which is not affecting homes. The Government and local authorities have organized five shelters for those affected, while emergency teams try to control the flames. 11 land brigades, eight helicopters, two tanker planes and a coordination plane and four tank trucks are working. In the afternoon, a Hercules C130 plane would be transferred to the area and the Armed Forces have made 175 officials and five brigades available to help combat the incident.
This season has been especially complex due to the forest fires that have occurred, above all, in the central zone of Chile. A week ago, Santiago woke up under a layer of polluting smoke due to an accident that occurred in the town of Curacavi, between the capital and Valparaiso. The high temperatures and drought that affect these regions only contribute to increasing the risk of accidents.
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