#AceWorldNews – VALPARAISO, CHILE – April 13 – (AP) – A raging fire leaped from hilltop to hilltop in this colourful port city, killing at least 16 people and destroying more than 500 homes.
More than 10,000 people were evacuated, including more than 200 female inmates at a prison.
The fire began Saturday afternoon in a forested area above ramshackle housing on one of the city’s many hilltops, and spread quickly as high winds rained hot ash over wooden houses and narrow streets. Electricity failed as the fire grew, with towering, sparking flames turning the night sky orange over the darkened remains of entire neighbourhoods.
“It’s a tremendous tragedy. This could be the worst fire in the city’s history,” President Michelle Bachelet said as fire-fighters contained most of the blazes, mobilizing 18 helicopters and planes to drop water on hotspots Sunday.
Bachelet warned that the toll of death and damage would rise once authorities can enter the smouldering remains.
Military Police Gen. Julio Pineda said 16 were killed and more than 500 people were injured. Patricio Bustos, who directs the national forensics service, said DNA tests would be needed to identify remains.