Nightly News   |  April 13, 2014

Chilean Wildfires Kill at Least 16

The death toll is expected to rise as the raging wildfire has forced thousands to evacuate and decimated hundreds of homes.

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>>> now to the still unfolding disaster in chile, where raging wildfires have killed at least 11 people, destroyed hundreds of homes, and force in order than 10,000 people to evacuate. all this in the pacific coast city of valparaiso . nbc's ron allen has our report.

>> reporter: the deadly inferno erupted in the forested hillsides of valparaiso , one of chile's most important seaports. thick, black smoke shrouding the picturesque city visible miles away . "when the fire was just a few clocks away," she says, "we ran with just our clothes and pets." some 10,000 people evacuated their homes. at least 500 houses destroyed as the flames or the through several densely populated neighborhoods. the blaze broke out saturday afternoon, burned through the night, and for much of today.

>> this fire was just unbelievable.

>> reporter: journalist graciela ibanez is there.

>> you can see the flames from far, far away . we were all scared that this would -- like we would wake up in the morning and see there was no city. i mean, people lost everything.

>> reporter: the country's president declared a state of emergency . thousands of troops moved in to maintain order. "it's a tremendous tragedy," she says, "possibly the worst fire in the history of valparaiso ." more than a thousand firefighters from the surrounding area battled to contain the blaze. late today, hot spots continued to burn. shelters overflowed. hospitals are treating hundreds of victims. with officials warning the toll of 16 lost lives could rise. ron allen , nbc news.