Chile battles to combat forest fires amid threat to residents

December 13, 2022 08:52 AM AEDT | By Reuters
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SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile is battling to control the spread of several wildfires that have already destroyed more than 4,000 hectares (9,900 acres) of woodlands and are putting local communities at risk.

Central regions including the Santiago metropolitan area, Valparaiso, O'Higgins and Maule are on red alert, with nine active fires currently being fought, data from the National Forestry Corporation (Conaf) showed on Monday.

Members of the federal government met emergency agencies overnight to discuss firefighters' progress and the threat of new outbreaks.

"We have put in place all resources to fight the forest fires that are impacting the central areas of Chile," President Gabriel Boric said on Twitter on Sunday night.

"Our main concern is the safety of affected people, who are being helped, and the extinguishing of the fires that are still active," he added.

As the fires edge closer, evacuations were ordered in Melipilla, some 60 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of the capital, where school classes were suspended Monday.

"Residential areas have been threatened by fire and in many of those places, despite the risk factors, there has been resistance to following the guidelines to evacuate," said Minister of the Interior Carolina Toha.

Forest fires are common around the southern summer season where high temperatures and strong winds help the rapid spread of flames. This season has registered 44 wildfire outbreaks throughout the country, according to official data.

(Reporting by Fabian Andrés Cambero, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)


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