More than 245 homes have been destroyed and 700 people left destitute after a forest fire tore through a low-income area of the Chilean seaside city of Valparaiso, Trend reports citing Reuters.
President Sebastian Pinera said on Thursday during a tour of the affected zone that there was evidence the fire had been started deliberately.
“I deeply regret that what should have been a good night, a night of peace, should have been so profoundly altered by this tragedy,” he said.
Valparaiso, known for its colorful wood-frame houses, is popular among tourists in the South American country.
The fire broke out in a forested area on the outskirts of the city and spread toward the coast, hitting the Rocuant and San Roque hills, a jumble of settlements that overlook the city.
Inhabitants fled their homes just moments before sitting down to their Christmas Eve dinner, some losing all their belongings and even pets.