Published: Friday 15 March 2002

Tourists were evacuated after raging forest fires engulfed three state-protected nature reserves, favourite destinations for campers in southern Chile. The fires consumed 15,000 ha of native forest in the Andean foothills. Officials believe that the fires have been caused by dry lightning storms in the mountains. Sergio Mendoza, the forestry commission's fire chief, said, "The geographical conditions and abundance of dry wood has fanned the fire."

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