Santiago, Jan 15 IANS | 10 months ago

Sixteen forest fires continued to rage across various parts of Chile Tuesday, but 14 other blazes were brought under control, the National Forestry Corporation, or Conaf, said.

Eight of Chile's 15 regions have some areas on fire.

Though hardest hit areas are the south-central and southern regions of Bio Bio, Maule and Araucania, Santiago was smothered in smoke from a fire in Cajon del Maipo, 20 km southeast of the capital.

In that area at the foot of the Andes, some 300 hectares of native vegetation have been consumed by flames and 40 homes had to be evacuated Monday night, although 30 families have now returned to their residences, authorities said.

Conaf teams and firefighters, supported by two helicopters, are battling a blaze in Cajon del Maipo and expect it to be brought under control in the next 48 hours.

Two places in the O'Higgins region, south of Santiago, are on red alert because of a fire that has been burning for a week near the town of Litueche, while in Valparaiso, northwest of the capital, the municipalities of Villa Alemana, La Calera and La Cruz are the scene of two more outbreaks of fire.

More than 60,000 hectares of woodland burned in Chile in 1,992 forest fires over the past year, according to Conaf.

The greatest environmental damage occurred in the regions of Maule and Santiago, each of which lost more than 20,000 hectares of forest.

(Posted on 15-01-2014)

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