Deadly Fires in Chile Continue to Rage

April 16, 2014; 4:32 AM ET
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The fire situation in Valparaiso, Chile, continues to worsen as parched conditions persist, creating poor conditions for firefighting efforts.

As of Tuesday morning, a series of fires in the oceanside city has killed 15 people, destroyed over 2,500 homes and forced over 11,000 people to evacuate, according to the Associated Press.

The fire began in a forested area just above hillside housing outside of the city. The fierce fire spread rapidly, exacerbated by the fact that many homes in the region do not have running water.

With little recent rain, the drought-stricken area is prone to fires. Efforts to stop the blazes have been hindered by winds gusting to nearly 20 mph.

In nearby Santiago, Chile, only 4 percent of normal rain has fallen since September. Although the summer is typically the dry season, close to 3 inches (76.2 mm) of rain is normal. Santiago has only received 0.12 of an inch (3.1 mm).

Valparaiso, Chile, Forecast
Interactive Chile Satellite
Chile Weather Center

Winds off the water are very common in Valparaiso. A similar location to this is around Los Angeles, Calif., with the mountains climbing rapidly east of the city and some low clouds and fog coming in over the year, but little in the way of rain typically falls.

The worst fire in the history of the city occurred in 1953, when 50 people were killed and every structure was destroyed on several of the city's hills, according to the Associated Press.

Sparks fly carried by the wind as a large forest fire reaches urban areas in Valparaiso, Chile, Sunday, April 13, 2014.

Unfortunately, with a storm track off to the south, the dry weather will continue with little relief as sunshine will prevail most days after just some low clouds in the morning.

The rainy season in the region begins in May, reaching its peak in June and July. This is good news for the communities that have seen little to no rain over the last several months. However, last year's rainy season was much drier than normal, and this year's could be similar with a lack of rain.

The official weather agency in Chile, Direccion Meteorologica de Chile, has predicted normal to below-normal rainfall through June in much of the fire-ravaged region.

Story by Meteorologist Alan Reppert. Meteorologist Dan DePodwin contributed to the content of this story.


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