A fire at an irregular camp in the Chilean city of Iguazu (north) on Monday destroyed at least 100 dangerous homes and injured at least 400 people, officials said.
“About 100 houses were set on fire in Laguna Verde, killing more than 400 people.” The report was submitted by a regional presidential delegation from the Tarapaca region, about 1,790 km north of Santiago.
The Laguna Verde neighborhood is located in one of the desert mountains surrounding the coastal city of Iquique and, being an irregular settlement, lacks basic services such as pumping water through pipes or other basic services, which further complicates the performance of firefighters.
The houses in the area were often lined with lighter materials such as metal or wood panels, and narrow paths were not paved so in a few hours the flames would jump from one house to another.
“It had a very rapid spread considering the problem of the terrain and the conditions provided for us on the platform to access our emergency units and the use of materials,” said George Medina, commander of the Iquique fire department.
Medina confirmed that at least six firefighters were injured “mainly due to heat and physical exertion” as trucks carried goods to the top of the inaccessible mountain.
He also pointed out that at least 15 people were injured in the fire that spread for several hours. No casualties were reported, but the death toll was estimated at 400.
Tarabaga’s regional presidential delegation said the fire was “under control” but not suffocating and there was a risk of further spread. They added that city schools have been set up as shelters for the victims.