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Chile receiving more international help fighting wildfires

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Nearly 1,500 square miles of forest in Chile have been consumed by wildfires, including this one in the El Maule region. The fires are described as the worst in Chile's history. Argentina, Spain, France and Portugal have joined efforts to combat the fires or to deliver aid. Photo by Elvis Gonzalez/EPA
Nearly 1,500 square miles of forest in Chile have been consumed by wildfires, including this one in the El Maule region. The fires are described as the worst in Chile's history. Argentina, Spain, France and Portugal have joined efforts to combat the fires or to deliver aid. Photo by Elvis Gonzalez/EPA

Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said Argentina, Spain, France and Portugal have joined efforts to combat the worst wildfires in the South American country's history.

The countries join Mexico, Russia and Colombia in attempting to douse the flames or in delivering aid to affected Chileans.

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"Chile is very grateful for the support of Spain, President Mariano Rajoy Brey," Bachelet told the Spanish leader in a statement. "Your valuable experience in fire fighting is very useful."

Chile's Ministry of Interior and Public Safety, known as ONEMI, on Monday said there are 58 active wildfires, while 55 have been brought under control and 11 have been extinguished. The fires have consumed nearly 1,500 square miles.

ONEMI said 11 people have died due to the fires that have destroyed 1,012 homes. At least 1,108 people have been sheltered and 3,782 are homeless.

Chile "continues the battle against the fire and the care for the people. That is the result that is important. Today as always, all for Chile," Bachelet said in a statement on Sunday.

"Because, there's only a certain group of people who's look at that anyway, compared to the audience that watches the show."

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