Chile declares disaster as fire storms historic port city
Four people have died in a fire raging in Chile, whose President has declared a disaster area as the conflagration threatens the port city of Valparaiso, authorities said Sunday.
Firefighters are struggling to bring the blaze under control, as Pacific coast winds fan the flames. The firefighters\’ work is also hampered by the city\’s topography. Valparaiso is surrounded by steep hills where most people live.
Chile\’s president, Michele Bachelet, has declared a state of emergency, placing armed forces on the city\’s streets to maintain order and prevent looting. Five thousand people have been evacuated from their homes. Authorities have set up shelters.
Valparaiso Mayor Jorge Castro described the blaze as the worst fire in the city\’s history.
The fire started Saturday. It has caused power cuts.
Valparaiso is 120 kilometers northwest of Chile\’s capital, Santiago.
Valparaiso\’s colorful houses from the late 19th and early 20th century, plus its cobbled streets and trams running up near-vertical rails supported its listing as a UNESCO-protected heritage site.