​Deadly fires in Chile affect area close to HULA

An enormous fire has been burning in Valparaiso, Chile, an adjoining city to Harding University in Latin America’s home inVina del Mar, but the HULA group remains safe, according to HULA director Tom Hook.

​The fire has been burning since about 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, Hook said, and has been reignited in several areas by gusty winds this afternoon.

​On Saturday night, authorities declared Valparaiso a catastrophic zone.

​Andrea DeCamp, a junior currently at HULA, said surrounding areas have been evacuated, but “HULA is safe.”

​ “(The fire) is not … any kind of real danger to HULA as it is several miles from our rather protected location, though visible from our apartment complex on Cerro Castillo,” Hook said. “We are taking precautions not to go into the areas impacted by the fire nor by the traffic congestion caused by it.”

​The Associated Press reported on Sunday that the fires have killed at least 11 people, destroyed at least 1,000 homes and more than 10,000 people were evacuated.

​“It's a tremendous tragedy. This could be the worst fire in the city’s history,” President Michelle Bachelet told the AP.

​Valparaiso is in the same bay as Vina del Mar and is in the town over, according to DeCamp. She said it takes around five minutes to reach downtown Valparaiso from Vina del Mar.