The city of Valparaiso, Chine, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003, has been engulfed in flames this past weekend. The President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, has announced that 11 individuals have been confirmed dead so far, and that further casualties are expected.
The fire sparked on the afternoon of Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the forested area above the picturesque city. The poor housing, which sits on extremely steep hills midway down between the downtown area and the forest was showered with embers and ash. The poorer neighborhoods, consisting mainly of wooden houses and narrow streets caught on fire rapidly. Electricity and water pressure in the affected neighborhoods shut down rapidly as the fire progressed.
Chile has so far relied on 17 helicopters and airplanes to drop water on the city in order to extinguish the flames. The government has also deployed 1250 firefighters to fight the flames and 2000 uniformed and battle-ready Chilean Navy soldiers to patrol the streets of Valparaiso and maintain peace.
The nation’s president has stated that 11 people have been confirmed dead and that more casualties are expected. Over 500 structures have been destroyed by the fire thus far. Thousands of residents fleeing the fire have been taken into shelters and hospitals and many of them are receiving medical treatment for burn injuries and smoke inhalation.
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