Valparaiso fire under control - officials

Santiago -

A massive blaze that ripped through the historic Chilean port city of Valparaiso last week, killing 15 people, has finally been brought under control, authorities said on Monday.

Firefighters work to put out a fire in Valparaiso, north-west of Santiago, on April 13, 2014. At least 15 people were killed and 2 000 houses destroyed by a fire that devastated parts of the Chilean port city. Picture: Eliseo Fernandez. Credit: Reuters

The national forestry agency, however, said at the weekend that firefighters were still monitoring certain hotspots within the perimeter set up around the blaze where they feared the flames could again flare up.

“The perimeter is under control,” Ricardo Bravo, the regional governor of Valparaiso, told local media on Monday. He too cautioned that flames could again pick up but insisted they would be quickly handled.

The fire, which officials said destroyed 2 900 homes, was one of the worst ever in Valparaiso - a Unesco World Heritage site famous for its colourful homes perched on hills and its cable cars.

It erupted in a forested area on the outskirts of the city on April 12, and mainly affected Valparaiso's poorer neighbourhoods.

About 1 000 people were still living in emergency shelters in the wake of the blaze and more than 1 500 families were still without power.

Millions of Chilean and foreign tourists visit Valparaiso each year. The city - once the most important port in the South Pacific - saw its heyday in the 19th century, but lost its lustre when the Panama Canal was built in the early 20th century. - Sapa-AFP