Wildfires continue to devastate Chile, as international aid arrives

World Today

It’s been two weeks since wildfires started to rage in central and southern Chile but the blazes show no signs of abating. No one knows for sure when they’re going to end. And international teams are coming to the country with aid.

The largest forest fires even seen in Chile have claimed 11 lives, among them firefighters and police officers, and devastated over 3,800 square kilometers of land.

CGTN’s Dan Collyns reports.

Chile wildfires

Wildfires rage in southern Chile. At least 11 have died. CGTN’s Dan Collyns reports.

Residents in the town of Santa Cruz de Cuca in the province of Nuble can only look on as the flames consume the trees. And the blaze seems uncontrollable.

“There are a lot of houses here, a lot. Obviously, we’re very worried. If the wind changes, then we could lose them,” said Moises Navarete, a resident.

Local residents are doing everything to save their homes. Some have watered the ground around homes while others collected water.

“We feel impotent. There are many people here and it’s just a matter of time before it crosses a narrow river and reaches where we are,” said Daniela Inostroza, resident.

Most of Daniela Inostroza’s family live in this valley and they won’t leave until the authorities force them to evacuate.

“There have been a lot of forest fires but never, never of this magnitude and they’ve never devastated so much land in such a short time,” Inostroza said.

By day, much of the international help comes from the air. A U.S. Boeing 747 known as the Super Tanker has dropped tens of thousands of gallons of water on fire that threatened the town of Dichato. And Russia has sent its largest cargo plane, the Ilyushin, to the fire-stricken zone.

The government reports that 19,000 Chileans and firefighters from 14 countries are here to combat the fires.

With no end in sight the blazes have already left almost 4,000 homeless and destroyed more than 1,000 homes.

The economic cost is expected to run into the hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars.

Story by The Associated Press