A fire of vast proportions developed starting yesterday afternoon in Viña del Mar, a city of about three hundred thousand inhabitants located 120 km north of Santiago de Chile. The provisional balance, according to the declarations of Patricio Brito, commander of the Fire Brigade of the city, speaks of at least two dead and between 400 and 500 homes destroyed or heavily damaged by the flames. The city, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean, is one of the most important tourist destinations in the country.
During the night, the presidential delegate of the Valparaíso region Sofia Gonzalez said that the flames have not yet been extinguished and the general situation is developing. More than one hundred units of the Fire Brigade and ten brigades of the Chilean Forest Guard (Conaf) are engaged on the spot.
The powerful gusts of wind that yesterday affected the entire region, blowing at a speed of between 40 and 50 km per hour throughout the course of the day, facilitated the dynamics of the flames’ propagation. More than 110 hectares of forest surrounding the city went up in smoke.
President Boric declares a state of calamity
In the meantime, considering the gravity of the current situation and the dangers for citizens, Chilean President Gabriel Boric has declared a state of emergency for calamities throughout the region. In addition, the National Emergency Office (Onemi), declared a red alert in the Viña del Mar area, evacuating the towns of Tranque Sur, Puerto Montt, Puerto Aysèn, Cabritera, Forestal Alto, Siete Hermanas.
The government decree, currently being finalized, will provide for the appointment of a head of national defense who will have the power to limit or interrupt the constitutional rights of citizens, such as those of assembly and movement, in the name of security and restoration of normality in the locality.