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Chile Continues to Battle Its Worst Wildfires

  • Associated Press

A wildfire approaches Chile's Dichato community, Jan. 30, 2017, where firefighters are working to keep the flames away from an estimated 800 homes.

Firefighters are using giant aircraft to dump tens of thousands of gallons (liters) of water on blazes that have ravaged vast swaths of the country and forced the evacuation of more than 800 families in the coastal town of Dichato alone.

Firefighters and residents fought the fast-spreading blazes on the ground Wednesday while Russian and U.S. supertankers tried to quell a blaze that threatens the region of Navidad near the capital of Santiago.

National flags fly over the scorched landscape of Chile's Santa Olga community, Jan. 31, 2017.
National flags fly over the scorched landscape of Chile's Santa Olga community, Jan. 31, 2017.

The fires have consumed forests, livestock and entire towns, prompting President Michelle Bachelet to declare a state of emergency, deploy troops and ask for international help.

The government says a total of 3,810 people have been driven from their homes and 1,103 homes destroyed.

Bachelet has called the widespread blazes the worst forest disaster in Chile's history. At least 11 deaths have been blamed on the fires.

The national forestry agency says the blazes have destroyed nearly 904,000 acres (366,000 hectares) since Jan. 15.

A Brazilian C-130 Hercules aircraft helps to fight the wildfire approaching Chile's community of Dichato, Jan. 30, 2017.
A Brazilian C-130 Hercules aircraft helps to fight the wildfire approaching Chile's community of Dichato, Jan. 30, 2017.

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