A red wildfire alert - the highest level - was issued by the National Emergency Office (ONEMI) for the commune of Ovalle (Coquimbo Region) late on Thursday, August 9. It remains in effect August 10. As of around 22:00 August 9 (local time), the so-called El Sifón fire was moving towards a populated area.
Forest fires are common in Chile during the summer months, but relatively rare during the winter. The country was devastated by a string of major forest fires in January 2017, which resulted in the deaths of 11 people, as well as the destruction of around 1500 houses and over 580,000 hectares (1.4 million acres).
Individuals in the areas are advised to keep abreast of the situation and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities.
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