Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Firefighters in Chile struggled to contain a wild blaze that had consumed at least 200 houses over Christmas in the outskirts of a coastal Chilean city, officials said.
Interior Minister Goncalo Blumel said Wednesday that progress has been made to contain the fire that swept through Valparaiso aided by drought conditions and high winds but not before the homes had been destroyed.
"All our solidarity and commitment to the families," he said via Twitter.
Chinook Helicopters with 10,000-liter capacity were flying in water to aid firefighters fighting the blaze that has affected some 600 families, Agriculture Minister Antonio Walker said.
The ministry said in a Wednesday night update it had deployed 12 brigades, two interface brigades, three tanker trucks and eight helicopters to fight the fire. And more resources would be deployed Thursday, Walker said.
"We are making every effort to control this emergency," he said.
Though the cause of the Christmas Eve fire is unknown, Blumel said there are indications it was intentionally set and authorities were investigating, stating "there will be no impunity" for those responsible.
Wednesday, Valparaiso Mayor Jorge Sharp declared a state of emergency to aid with debris removal and reconstruction, adding that he will be filing a criminal complaint against those responsible for "the obvious intentionality of this fire."
"We deeply regret the fire that affects so many families in the hills of Valparaiso and especially on Christmas Eve," he said via Twitter.
Valparaiso, some 70 miles west of the capital Santiago, is a tourist destination that was severely damaged in 2014 by a fast-spreading fire that killed 12 people and destroyed the homes of some 500 families.