SANTIAGO – A fire in a poor neighborhood in Chile’s northern Antofagasta region on Monday destroyed at least 100 homes, injured eight people and left some 400 without a roof over their heads.
According to a preliminary police report, the blaze was reported about 4:30 pm in the so-called Frei Bonn shantytown and all local fire companies and vehicles were dispatched to the site.
The volunteer firefighters were reinforced with a water cannon truck belonging to the Carabineros, Chile’s military police, whose personnel deployed throughout the zone to ensure that nobody was trapped in the burning and threatened houses.
Police reported that at least 700 local residents were evacuated.
Daniel Augusto, the mayor of the city of Calama, 1,564 kilometers (970 miles) north of Santiago, told Cooperativa Radio that the fire had destroyed more than 65 percent of the shantytown.
The governor of the town of El Loa, Maria Bernarda Jopia, told 24 Horas television that about 750 people – most of them foreigners – live in the shantytown, adding that one of the men taken to the Antofagasta Hospital had burns over 30 percent of his body.
Local authorities set up a shelter in an elementary school to temporarily house the people who lost their homes.