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Chile wildfire: at least 12 dead and 2,000 homes lost

Firefighter work to put out a fire in Valparaiso city, northwest of Santiago, Chile. Credit: Reuters\Eliseo Fernandez

At least 12 people have been killed and 2,000 homes destroyed by a wild fire that devastated parts of the Chilean port city of Valparasio over the weekend.

Firefighters work to put out a fire in Valparaiso city, northwest of Santiago, Chile. Credit: Reuters\Eliseo Fernandez

Pushed by strong Pacific coast winds, the fire started on Saturday and rampaged over 700 hectares (1,700 acres) of forest and hilly residential neighborhoods including La Cruz and Las Canas, authorities said.

A resident, whose home was damaged by a major fire, sits in Memory Square in the centre of the fire zone. Credit: Reuters\Lucas Ninno

The Chilean Congress, which is housed in Valparaiso, was spared by the blaze, as was the city's historic quarter with its late 19th century architecture.

Chilean President declares state of emergency

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has declared a state of emergency and sent the army in to maintain order after a wildfire destroyed 500 houses in the Chilean port city of Valparaiso.

Residents of the this morning awoke to stench-filled scene of smoke, ash and sirens. Marines have been patrolling the streets while ambulance crews treat people for smoke inhalation and other injuries.

A man digs through the rubble of a home destroyed by wildfires. Credit: REUTERS/Eliseo Fernandez

While the blaze inflicting most of the damage overnight, firefighters today continued to try to douse active points of the blaze.

"It is still not completely extinguished," Ricardo Bravo, a local government official said.

Residents survey the damage of the wildfire. Credit: REUTERS/Eliseo Fernandez
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