(CNN Chile) – At least 16 people are dead as a massive wildfire burns in Chile.
500 homes have been destroyed and 10,000 people have had to flee.
More than 1,200 firefighters from across Chile work feverishly, fighting a massive wildfire.
Flames engulfing the coastal city of Valparaiso about 70 miles from the nation’s capital of Santiago, forcing the president to declare a state of emergency.
“We lived through hell. It was something terrible, terrible, terrible. We have no houses, nothing. Imagine, it was hell what we lived through. Thank God that I didn’t get burned. All my five sisters have everything burned. All my friends and family. We’re all neighbors and it was so terrible,” a resident of Valparaiso said.
Strong winds are fanning the flames, making it extremely difficult for crews on the ground. One official calls the fire one of the worst fires in history.
For some, charred remains are all that’s left of their homes.
“Approximately, 10,000 people have been evacuated.. Not only people whose houses were affected by the fire, but also people in areas where the fire could potentially reach,” Bachelet said.
Police have been called in from all over the country to prevent looting in areas that have been abandoned. Officials are also drawing up plans to evacuate a local prison.