Chile Deadly fires extinguished in Valparaiso region

Chile: Deadly fires “extinguished” in Valparaiso region

The fires that devastated Chile's Valparaiso tourist region and left at least 131 dead have been “extinguished,” firefighters announced Wednesday.

• Also read: Forest fires: Chile's largest botanical garden lies in ashes

• Also read: Fires in Chile: Death toll rises to 131

Around 2,000 firefighters have brought under control the numerous outbreaks that have broken out since Friday around the seaside resort of Viña del Mar, 120 km northwest of Santiago.

President Gabriel Boric called the fires “the biggest tragedy” the country has seen since the 2010 earthquake, followed by a tsunami that killed more than 500 people.

Figures on the possible number of missing people have not yet been released.

In the disaster area, residents organize night patrols because they denounce the criminal origin of the fires.

“While my family is staying in an emergency shelter, I have decided to stay here. The lower part is still full of trees and we see a lot of people walking up and down,” Miguel Angel Reto, a 42-year-old Peruvian worker, told AFP.

Alongside Chileans, Venezuelans, Haitians and Ecuadorians, Mr. Reto has settled irregularly on the heights of Viña del Mar, in a sector called the United Nations.

The fires destroyed their wooden buildings, but they returned with every intention of rebuilding them.

The authorities had mentioned a possible criminal background from the beginning and, according to them, 15,000 houses fell victim to the flames.

During a visit to Viña del Mar on Tuesday, President Gabriel Boric himself warned: “There are people who are trying to set fires, we will find these villains and put them behind bars.”

According to the National Disaster Prevention and Response Service (Senapred), in the midst of the Australian summer and scorching temperatures, Chile is still affected by several ongoing fires in central and southern regions of the country.