A woman cries after a forest fire destroyed her home in the hills of Chile’s Valparaiso region on Friday.—AFP
A woman cries after a forest fire destroyed her home in the hills of Chile’s Valparaiso region on Friday.—AFP

SANTIAGO: A major fire broke out at Chile’s Ventanas port on Thursday near a refinery and smelter belonging to state-run miner Codelco, but the company said operations had not been affected.

A separate forest fire south of Ventanas, near the coastal tourist city of Via del Mar, raged on Friday, killing two people while destroying some 200 homes.

That fire consumed 110 hectares of land, an official said, as firefighters struggled to contain it.

The Chilean government declared a state of emergency in the Via del Mar area on Thursday night.

Codelco’s smelter near the Ventanas port was already shut down due to maintenance, while the refinery is operating normally, according to Codelco, the world’s top copper producer.

There were no injuries from the port fire, the company that administers the port said in a statement. It said the incident occurred in a solid bulk cargo conveyor belt and spread to other nearby facilities.

Local media published images showing large amounts of dark smoke billowing out from the port, located 145 kilometres north-west of the capital Santiago.

AES Chile, which operates a coal-fired power plant near the port, said in a statement that it was taking all measures to prevent the fire from reaching its installations.

It added that a unit of the plant which is closest to the blaze, was taken offline due to company security protocols, while other units were operating normally.

Published in Dawn, December 24th, 2022

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