A state of emergency has been declared as coastal cities like Viña del Mar and Valparaiso are choked in smoke and people living in central regions are forced to leave their homes.
Rodrigo Mundaca, the governor of the Valparaiso region, said Sunday that authorities were upholding a curfew in the towns of Viña del Mar, Quilpué, Villa Alemana and Limache to allow authorities to focus on battling the blazes.
Pope Francis in a post on ‘X’ called upon people to “pray for the deceased and injured victims of the devastating fires that have affected central Chile.”
In a televised statement on Saturday, Boric said that the defense ministry would deploy more military units to affected areas, with all necessary resources made available.
Earlier, Chile’s Finance Minister Mario Marcel told reporters that a preliminary estimate for damages in the Valaparaíso region would reach the “hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The fires come as the country is hit by a summer heatwave, with Chile’s capital Santiago sweltering through consecutive days of hot, dry temperatures climbing above 33 degrees Celsius (91.4°F).
Scientists say climate change and the El Nino weather phenomenon are driving forces behind an increasingly warm planet, making events such as heatwaves and fires more likely.
Emergency crews are prioritizing the fires in the port city of Valparaíso on Chile’s coast because of their proximity to urban areas and around 372 residents have been reported missing, according to its mayor.