Chile battle worst wildfires in country’s recent history (VIDEO)

 Chile battle worst wildfires in country’s recent history (VIDEO)More than 90 blazes have scorched 180,000 hectares, razed hundreds of homes, turned village schools to ashes and destroyed cattle herds and vineyards.

A prolonged campaign to extinguish the flames has claimed four firefighters’ lives, but the forestry service reported said 35 fires remain out of control.

The government has dispatched more than 40 helicopters and light aircraft to douse the ground, but its efforts have been criticised as inadequate, particularly since the director of the forestry service admitted half its aircraft are out of operation.

The government declared a state of emergency last week and requested international assistance to cope with the fire.

Help has come from France, Peru, Mexico and the United States. The most visible sign of support arrived on Wednesday morning in the form of a Boeing 747-400 supertanker. However, there are questions about its effectiveness in the small mountain valleys where many of the fires are raging.

Earlier this week, satellite images from the US space agency Nasa showed a brown plume stretching about 300km along the Pacific seaboard, originating from clusters of fires around Pichilemu and Constitutión.

The agency noted that forest fires are a regular phenomenon in Chile, but have been more frequent in recent years. There were 6,700 in the 2015-16 season, compared to an average of 5,200 between 1990 and 2000.

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