Huge Fire Burns in Chile's Historic Port City

Chilean officials say a huge fire has killed at least 16 people and destroyed 500 homes in the port city of Valparaiso.

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

The fire began Saturday in a forested area above ramshackle housing on one of the city's many hilltops. 

A group of firefighters stand next to destroyed homes as a forest fire rages towards urban areas in the city of Valparaiso, Chile on April 13, 2014. /AP A group of firefighters stand next to destroyed homes as a forest fire rages towards urban areas in the city of Valparaiso, Chile on April 13, 2014. /AP

Firefighters are struggling to bring the blaze under control, as Pacific coast winds fan the flames.

Chile's president, Michele Bachelet, has declared a state of emergency, placing armed forces on the city's streets to maintain order and prevent looting. Authorities have set up shelters.

Valparaiso Mayor Jorge Castro described the blaze as the worst fire in the city's history.

Valparaiso is a UNESCO world heritage site, 120 km northwest of Chile's capital, Santiago.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

VOA News / Apr. 14, 2014 07:45 KST