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11 Dead As Fire Hits Chile’s Historic Valparaiso

A raging fire leaped from hilltop to hilltop in this colorful port city, killing at least 11 people and destroying more than 500 homes.

More than 10,000 people were evacuated, including more than 200 female inmates at a prison.

The fire began Saturday afternoon in a forested area above ramshackle housing on one of the city’s 42 hilltops, and spread quickly as high winds blowing seaward rained hot ash over wooden houses and narrow streets. Electricity failed as the fire grew, with towering, sparking flames turning the night sky orange over a darkening, destroyed horizon. Eventually, neighborhoods on six hilltops were reduced to ashes, including one hill just several blocks from Chile’s parliament building.

“It’s a tremendous tragedy. This could be the worst fire in the city’s history,” President Michelle Bachelet said as firefighters contained most of the blazes, mobilizing 18 helicopters and planes to drop water on hotspots Sunday.

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