Via Thomson Reuters: Chile declares state of emergency due to massive wildfires.
SANTIAGO, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Chile declared a state of emergency on Friday as more than a dozen wildfires that have scorched nearly 50,000 hectares (123,500 acres) threatened to encroach on towns, factories and vineyards.
Firefighters, forestry service personnel and members of the military are battling 18 separate blazes in the center and south of the country that have been fueled by strong winds and a heat wave.
The largest has consumed 24,000 hectares in and around Pumanque, a rural area some 140 kilometers (87 miles) south of the capital Santiago that is near some of Chile's vineyards.
"I've instructed the Interior Ministry to declare a catastrophe zone and a state of emergency in the areas affected by the fires," President Michelle Bachelet said on Twitter.
The smoke from the blazes cloaked Santiago in a thick haze. Television news images showed helicopters and planes trying to douse the out-of-control fires, apparently to little avail.
The Chilean Ministry of Health is now tweeting about how people can keep the smoke out of their homes.