Dozens of wildfires claim 23 lives in Chile

Dozens of wildfires claim 23 lives in Chile

Dozens of wildfires in Chile have claimed 23 lives, forcing the government to extend an emergency order to another region as a hot summer heatwave complicates efforts to control the blazes.

More than 1,100 people have sought refuge in shelters while at least 979 have been reported to have been injured by the raging fires, according to an official briefing on Saturday.

The latest emergency order covers the southern region of Araucana, next to the previously declared Biob o and uble regions, located near the middle of the South American country's long Pacific coastline.

The interior minister, Carolina Toh, said that weather conditions have made it very difficult to put out the fires that are spreading and the emergency is getting worse.

She said that she needed to reverse that curve, because 76 more fires had been ignited on Friday.

On Saturday, another 16 fires sparked to life as temperatures exceeded 40 C.

The emergency orders protect the three sparsely populated areas, home to many farms where grapes, apples and berries are grown for export, along with extensive tracts of forest land.

The orders allow for the deployment of soldiers and additional resources to deal with the natural disaster.

The officials said that Spain, the US, Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil and Venezuela have offered help, including planes and firefighters.

According to the official data released late on Friday, more than 40,000 hectares have been burned by the fires.

National forestry agency Conaf reported on Saturday that 80 of 231 total wildfires are actively fighting each other, while 151 of them are under control.

Over 90% of the wildfires have been smothered before they spread beyond 5 hectares, according to officials.

The immediate evacuation was the only option for those unlucky enough to get caught up in one of the uncontrolled wildfires.

Carolina Torres, who fled from an approaching fire near the city of Puren in Araucan, said I left with what I had on.

I think everyone here did the same thing because the winds shifted and you had to grab everything right away. On Friday, President Gabriel Boric cut short his summer vacation and traveled to Biob o and uble, pledging to make sure the affected areas receive all necessary support.

Boric pointed out that some fires may have been intentionally started, but did not provide any additional details.