AP PHOTOS: Deadly blazes in central Chile leave scenes of devastation

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Forest fires ravaged central Chile, leaving more than 100 people dead, scores more reported missing and thousands of homes destroyed.

The fires began Friday on the mountainous eastern edge of Viña del Mar, a beach resort known for a festival that attracts the best in Latin music.

Officials have suggested that some of the wildfires around the city could have been intentionally provoked. But President Gabriel Boric said that dry weather, strong winds and low humidity helped the fires spread faster.

The fires came came amid a heat wave that pushed temperatures in the capital city of Santiago to about 37 degrees Celsius (nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit). Extreme heat bakes moisture from wood, turning it into ideal fuel.

Volunteers in central Chile worked to remove charred metal, broken glass and other debris from neighborhoods devastated by the fires over several days.

Residents returned to their homes on Monday to search through the debris. Many have said they prefer to sleep near their homes in order to prevent looters from taking what is left of their possessions, or from claiming the land their homes were built on.

According to authorities, who have been questioned for failures in the evacuation alert system, the fires are contained but not completely controlled.


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