Fuego

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Meaning: fire

On a hot sticky day we bus along the coast from Valparaíso, Chile to the nearby town of Viña del Mar to get some sun sand and sea. At the beach its hard to even see a spare patch of sand between the crowds of umbrellas and people. After a dip in the sea we abandon the masses and walk up along the path. Suddenly, looking back towards Valpo a huge plume of smoke emerges and spirals upwards. Everyone on the beach below stops and points as the smoke rises and floats out over the sea, blocking the sun. Valpo is on fire! But the city is no stranger to enormous fires and it turns out this one is a relatively small forest fire atop one of the cerros (hills) even though at least one hundred homes end up being burnt. In 2014 a huge fire in Valpo killed 14 people and destroyed 2500 homes. The Valpo fire is just the beginning of a month long series of huge forest fires all throughout Southern Chile. One hundred fires raze landscapes and homes and at least 11 people have died. Days after the fire the smoke finally clears and Valparaíso natives see blue sky again.

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