Chile Wildfires Declared a 'State of Emergency'

Wildfires sweeping across Chile have destroyed more than 40,000 hectares (98,842 acres) of forestry land belonging to companies, most of it growing pine and eucalyptus for the wood, pulp and paper industry, an industry association said on Thursday.

The fast-spreading flames have laid waste to forests and vineyards, Phil reported.

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet has declared a state of emergency and called for worldwide help to stymie the wildfires.

With forecasts of more strong winds and hot temperatures, the country's Interior Minister Mahmud Aleuy said more fires are expected. "Nobody can imagine what happened in Santa Olga".

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A dead dog lies near a crying man in Santa Olga, Chile, after a forest fire devastated the town January 26, 2017.

But this year was considered worse because of a drought attributed by environmentalists to climate change.

The worst forest fire in Chile's recent history has ravaged an entire town, destroying buildings, farms and livestock.

As of Thursday morning, Chile's National Emergency Bureau was tracking 100 active fires covering about 920 square miles, 30 of which have been contained, according to The New York Times.

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Earlier in the day, a firefighter died after getting stuck while trying to help a family escape from their home near the city of Constitucion, a source in the fire service said.

The Chilean government has appealed for global help. The US responded by sending a Boeing 747-400 Water Bomber, an airborne firefighting aircraft that can carry nearly 20,000 gallons of water or fire retardant.

Worldwide assistance has been requested to aid the extensive efforts to extinguish the fires, with help so far having come from numerous countries including France, Peru, Mexico and the U.S.

In Santa Olga, a town of 5,000 in Maule, 1,000 homes were destroyed, Mayor Carlos Valenzuela told local media.

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Firefighters have been able to control the majority of the blazes, but the National Forest Corporation (CONAF) reports there are still around 35 fires out of control.


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