Forest fire burns over 1,100 hectares in northern Chile

SANTIAGO. KAZINFORM A forest fire has burnt over 1,100 hectares in northern Chile's Los Vilos commune, leading authorities to declare a Red Alert for the area, the Interior Ministry's National Emergency Office (Onemi) said on Wednesday.

According to the National Forestry Corporation (Conaf), the fire, which started Tuesday, has spread in Cerro Minas Las Vacas, about 240 km north of the capital, Xinhua reports.

The fire has consumed forest but affected no homes or lives, Onemi said.

From the area affected, the executive director of Conaf, Rodrigo Munita, told reporters that four helicopters, two planes and 45 fire-fighting brigades are battling the blaze that is threatening communications antennas and a nature reserve of canelos (winter's bark), a slender tree considered sacred by Chile's indigenous Mapuche culture.

The regional director of Conaf in Coquimbo, Eduardo Rodriguez, said that despite the damage, officials were hopeful because «there are fewer hot spots than on Tuesday.»

However, «there are still fire fronts advancing that are being controlled by land, with the use of helicopters, and once the fog allows it, with tanker planes,» said Rodriguez.

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