One Of Chile's Most Popular And Beautiful Tourist Destinations Is On Fire

fire torres del paineView of the forest fire, 12/30/11

Photo: Digital Journal/R. BarrĂ­a Q. Radio Cooperativa

A raging fire has closed down Torres del Paine National Park and forced the evacuation of tourists in southern Chile (via Bloomberg).Over its four day lifespan, the fire has already consumed 14,000 acres of protected forest and grasslands in the beautiful Patagonia region. Winds over 50 miles an hour are expected to fan the flames today.

The Ultima Esperanza province has been put on red alert, as dozens of Chilean firefighters and hundreds of military personnel from both Chile and Argentina have been deployed to fight the fire.

Though a mandatory evacuation was not ordered, some tourists had to be removed from sites closest to the blaze, and the park is now closed to new entries until the danger has subsided.

Most of the damage has taken place far from the park’s main attractions and hiking trails.

Torres del Paine is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the world, and in Chile in particular. More than 20,000 national and 40,000 international tourists visit the site each year.

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