AP PHOTOS: Chile continues to battles its worst wildfires

AP News
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Posted: Jan 31, 2017 10:38 PM
AP PHOTOS: Chile continues to battles its worst wildfires

DICHATO, Chile (AP) — Strong winds are continuing to stoke the flames of raging wildfires in Chile, forcing the evacuation of more than 800 families in the coastal town of Dichato.

Firefighters and residents fought the fast-spreading blazes on the ground Tuesday, while a Russian supertanker plane and a Brazilian Hercules have dumped thousands of gallons of water on the area 290 miles (470 kilometers) southwest of the Chilean capital.

A Boeing 747-400 supertanker from the United States also assisted local emergency crews Tuesday.

The fires have consumed forests, livestock and entire towns, prompting President Michelle Bachelet to declare a state of emergency, deploy troops and ask for international help.

In all, more than 20,000 people, including firefighters and experts from more than a dozen countries, have battled wildfires that Bachelet has called the worst forest disaster in Chile's history. At least 11 deaths have been blamed on the fires.

The national forestry agency says the blazes have destroyed nearly 904,000 acres (366,000 hectares) since Jan. 15.