The fire destroyed more than 200 homes and affected more than 1,000 people, Agriculture Minister Antonio Walker said Wednesday evening. Earlier, Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel said authorities believe arson caused the blaze and urged people to report any suspicious activity.
"We're not certain, but everything indicates that yesterday's fire was intentional, and began in an area quite close to the homes," said Ezio Passadore, emergency manager for Valparaíso. The fire was doused in urban areas but remained “active” in the woods, said Ricardo Toro, head of Chile's national emergency office.
Many homes in the low-income neighborhoods where the fire occurred don't have running water and get their supply from tanker trucks a couple of times a week. Wildfires have affected parts of Valparaiso several times in the last month as Chile contends with its worst drought on record.