Dozens of forest fires in Chile: the authorities extended the emergency

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 Dozens of forest fires in Chile: authorities extend state of emergency

Hundreds of forest fires raging in Chile forced the government on Saturday to declare a state of emergency in another part of the country. The scorching summer heat is complicating efforts to fight the fires, which have so far claimed the lives of at least 16 people.

The emergency order signed by the Department of the Interior now applies to the La Araucania region, located south of the previously hit regions of Biobio and neighboring Nuble, located near the center of the South American country on the long Pacific coast. The three regions are home to many farms and forest land.

An emergency helicopter crashed in La Araucania on Friday, killing its pilot and mechanic, officials said.

Authorities said 11 people, including a firefighter, were killed in the city of Santa Juana in Biobio, about 500 kilometers south of the capital Santiago.

blazes amid heavy smoke, while firefighters and local residents tried to contain the flames on the ground.

Orders from the Ministry of Internal Affairs allow the use of soldiers and additional resources to combat the disaster.

About 40,000 hectares have been destroyed by the fires, according to official figures released late Friday evening.

The National Forestry Agency CONAF said on Saturday that 231 forest fires had been recorded. With 80 of them, firefighters are actively fighting, and 151 are localized and under control.

About two dozen fires have been declared as having a red level of danger.

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