Chile Devastating Wild Fires

A series of fast-spreading fires, mostly in Chile’s central region, are being fanned by strong winds, high temperatures and a prolonged drought. One town, Santa Olga, has been destroyed by the blaze, said the BBC Friday.

Epic Wildfires, Chile

A prolonged drought and high temperatures have worsened the Chile blazes, which have so far destroyed more than 700,000 acres of forestland and killed 10 people, mainly firefighters and police officers, according to New York Times Wednesday. The government has declared a state of catastrophe in four regions, deployed 1,200 troops to support the efforts of firefighters and appealed for help from other countries.

As of Friday morning, about 130 active res remained, 51 of which have been contained, according to the National Emergency Bureau of Chile. They cover an area of about 920 square miles.

More than 2,700 people have lost their homes, and thousands have been evacuated from the affected areas.

At least 10 people have been arrested in connection with the fires.

Fierce winds and smoldering ash have complicated the challenge of containing the blazes, which on Wednesday destroyed the small hamlet of Santa Olga in the Maule region. In total, 4,000 people — including firefighters, troops and national forestry bureau officers — and 46 aircraft have been deployed to combat the fires, according to the National Emergency Bureau.

On Wednesday, a supertanker arrived from the United States to help put out fires in some areas. It had been paid for with a US$2 million donation from the foundation of Lucy Ana Avilés, a Chilean who lives in Denver and is married to Benjamin Walton, a Walmart heir.