Chile in Flames, 43 Detained as Suspects

Over 130 forest fires have raged across central and southern Chile as citizens scrambled to evacuate; 43 people detained as suspects.

The wildfires, which started two weeks ago and spread quickly aided by wind and Chile’s dry climate. Since their beginning the fires have destroyed over 400,000 hectares of land and claimed the lives of 11 people, most of these fire fighters.  

Yesterday, authorities detained 43 people who are suspected of starting the fires. An investigation pending, the suspects could face up to 20 years in prison.

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet has declared a state of emergency and asked for foreign aid to help tame the blazes. Half a dozen foreign nations including, Russia, France, the United States and Peru have sent help to combat the fires, which have destroyed 2,000 homes and left 8,000 people without shelter.

Of the 130 fires, 50 are under control as foreign aid continues to pour arrive in hopes of helping tame the blazes. Meanwhile, fire chiefs say that poor preparation and climate change, which has caused severe drought in central and southern Chile, are to blame for the rapid spread of the wildfires.