SANTIAGO, Chile — At least 13 people have been reported dead as a result of more than 150 wildfires burning across Chile that have destroyed homes and thousands of acres of forest while the South American country is in the midst of a scorching heat wave.
President Gabriel Boric of Chile, who suspended a vacation to travel to the affected areas on Friday, said there was “evidence” that some fires had been caused by unauthorized burnings. “The full force of the state will be deployed to, first of all, fight the fires and to accompany all the victims,” Mr. Boric said.
As of midday Friday, the fires had blazed through nearly 35,000 acres, and 65 fires were declared under control. It remained unclear how many homes and other structures had been burned.
Most of the wildfires were in the Biobío region and the neighboring Ñuble region, where the government has declared states of catastrophe, a designation that allows greater coordination with the military and the suspension of certain constitutional rights.
“Families are having a very difficult time,” Ivonne Rivas, the mayor of the port city of Tomé, in Biobío, told local radio. “It’s hell what they are living through; the fire got away from us.
The heat wave hitting Chile is expected to continue, with high temperatures and strong winds that could make fighting the wildfires more challenging.
Trying to extinguish a fire in Santa Juana, near Concepcion, Chile, on Friday.
Rosa Munoz, center, outside her destroyed home in Tomé on Saturday.
Fire had destroyed nearly 35,000 acres of forest in Chile as of Friday.
Burned trees along a road near Santa Juana on Friday.
Julio Escobar cleaning the debris of his house in Tomé on Saturday.