Santiago:A forest fire in Chile’s Metropolitan region has left one person dead, five people injured and 46 homes destroyed after razing at least 659 hectares, the Interior and Public Security Ministry’s National Emergency Office (Onemi) said.
In a news bulletin, the Onemi on Tuesday said the fire in Melipilla commune, a rural town located about 70 kilometers southwest of the capital Santiago, was detected on December 11 and continues to burn despite efforts to extinguish it.
Some 184 people have been left homeless by the blaze.
Among the injured is a 67-year-old woman with burns to 11 per cent of her body, medical authorities told local media.
Chilean Agriculture Minister Esteban Valenzuela on Monday told reporters that 52 per cent of fires in the country are caused by negligence or accidents, 12 per cent are of indeterminate origin or being investigated, and only one per cent occurs naturally.
He lamented that a whopping 35 per cent of fires are intentionally started.
“This cannot go unpunished,” said Valenzuela, calling on “the national prosecutor’s office to take action on the matter and, given the information provided by Conaf (National Forestry Corporation), to be much more proactive in preventing impunity in intentional fires.”