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Chile Ravaged by Worst Fires in Its History

Wildfires have been raging in central and southern Chile, fanned by strong winds, hot temperatures and a prolonged drought.

People sit in a car near burned houses in Santa Olga, Chile, on Jan. 26, 2017.

Flames from one of Chile's worst wildfires completely consumed the town of Santa Olga as the death toll from the blazes since November rose to nine, officials said Thursday.

Pablo Sanhueza / Reuters

A woman walks past burned houses in Santa Olga, on Jan. 26.

The flames engulfed the post office, a kindergarten, and about 1,000 homes Thursday in Santa Olga, 220 miles south of the Chilean capital. The body of one person was found under the charred remains of the town, which another 6,000 residents fled unharmed.

Pablo Sanhueza / Reuters

Residents comfort each other in Santa Olga on Jan. 26.

The fast-spreading blazes of recent weeks have destroyed about 385,000 acres (160,000 hectares) of forest and now killed nine people. They include a firefighter and two police officers who died Jan. 25.

Pablo Sanhueza / Reuters

Residents walk amid the remains in Santa Olga on Jan. 26.

Pablo Vera Lisperguer / AFP - Getty Images

A man rides a quad through a path amid the remains of Santa Olga on Jan. 26.

The ferocity of the wildfires prompted President Michelle Bachelet to ask for international help. "Chile is living the greatest forest disaster in our history," Bachelet said. "But we have the courage and the solidarity to face it."

Pablo Vera Lisperguer / AFP - Getty Images
A young couple rest in a football field in Santa Olga on Jan. 26. Pablo Vera Lisperguer / AFP - Getty Images

Two men run away from forest fires in Concepcion, southwestern Chile, on Jan. 25.

Guillermo Salgado / AFP - Getty Images

A woman covers her mouth as a fire advance in Hualane, a community in Concepcion, on Jan. 25.

Alejandro Zo?ez / AP

Firefighters dig trenches in a effort to stop the advancement of fire in Hualane, Concepcion, on Jan. 25.

Alejandro Zo?ez / AP

A man covers his face with his shirt in Penco, near Concepcion, on Jan. 25.

Juan Gonzalez / Reuters
A Boeing 747 aerial firefighting super tanker helps in the effort to put out fires in Hualane, 112 miles south of Santiago, on Jan. 25. Pablo Vera Lisperguer / AFP - Getty Images
Firefighters working amid destroyed building in Cauquenes, some 220 miles south of Santiago, on Jan. 24. Dragomir Yankovic / AFP - Getty Images
A Chilean firefighter works in Litueche, 93 miles south of Santiago, on Jan. 24. Martin Bernetti / AFP - Getty Images
Firefighters battle a blaze in Florida, southern Chile, on Jan. 23. Juan Gonzalez / Reuters

Nora Villarroel, 59, tries to put out the fire in the remains of her burned house in Valparaiso on Jan. 2.

The fires have been raging in central and southern Chile since November, fanned by strong winds, hot temperatures and a prolonged drought. 

Luis Hidalgo / AP