Chile wildfires: At least 11 die in catastrophe

A woman wipes tears amid the remains of Santa Olga, a small town ravaged by the fires.

Story highlights

  • Officials looking into what caused them
  • Experts from abroad helping out

(CNN)A chain of wildfires has unleashed a catastrophe over wide swaths of central and southern Chile, killing at least 11 people, destroying thousands of homes and consuming an area about three times the size of New York City, authorities said.

"We have never seen anything on this scale, never in the history of Chile," President Michelle Bachelet, who has declared a state of emergency, said earlier this week.
    "The truth is that the forces are doing everything humanly possible and will continue until they can contain and control the fires."
      Men work to put out a raging fire in Constitucion, about 220 miles south of Santiago, the capital.
      Many of those killed are firefighters battling more than 100 separate fires, about half of which are still uncontrolled, according to government reports.
      Bachelet said she planned to meet with the intelligence heads of police and armed forces to discuss the investigation into the cause.
      "Because there are multiple points of origin, we cannot dismiss the possibility that there might be an intentional component here," she said Thursday in Santiago.