A fire in a poor neighbourhood of the Chilean city of Valparaiso destroyed dozens of houses and left families homeless in the middle of Christmas Eve. The fire spread through two hills from where it reached the neighbouring residential areas. No information on any casualties has been reported since the fire started on Tuesday, December 24. The fire was still burning on Christmas Day which resulted in many families fleeing their homes.
Chilean authorities have said the evidence indicated that the fire had been started deliberately. A video posted on social media showed a car parked in the hills next to the site where the fire first started. Residents from the neighbouring areas also reported that they had seen a car next to the place where the fire is believed to have started. Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel has also talked about the evidence and said that an investigation has been launched into the matter.
Nearly 445 acres of grasslands were destroyed by the fire while a state of emergency had been declared in the city. Chilean Agriculture Minister Antonio Walker said that the fire department is still struggling to contain the blaze. Chilean President Sebastian Pinera also expressed his grief on Twitter as he said that he deeply regrets the incident destroyed so many homes and affected so many families, especially on Christmas Day.
According to the Valparaiso Fire Department, around 200 homes were destroyed by the fire and two nearby residential areas were being evacuated. Help had been sought from the neighbouring fire department units to bring the inferno under control. Valparaiso, known for its wood-frame houses was ravaged by fire after high summer temperatures fed by strong winds helped the blaze spread. In 2017, the central Chilean town of Santa Olga was destroyed by wildfires.