SANTIAGO – Chilean authorities are maintaining the red alert in the vicinity of Valparaiso due to forest fires that have consumed almost 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) after last April a fire in the same area killed 15 people and destroyed 3,000 homes.
According to a report by the firefighters and the regional National Emergency Office, the fire has been affecting the community of Hijuelas, some 120 km (75 mi.) northwest of Santiago, since Dec. 22.
Because of the serious nature of the blaze, Interior and Public Safety Minister Rodrigo Peñailillo flew over the affected area along with the regional governor, Ricardo Bravo.
The National Forestry Corporation, or Conaf, said that so far there are three active fires, and at least 12 firefighting brigades are deployed in the area to deal with the emergency, aided by seven helicopters.
Last April a fire lasting four days consumed more than 10,000 hectares, killed 15 people and caused property damage for another 12,000 in the Valparaiso area, where the government is currently carrying out a $510 million reconstruction plan in the affected sectors.