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31 December 2011

Chile national park shut down by wildfire

Magallanes municipal government via AFP - Getty Images - Part of the Torres del Paine fire is seen on Friday along Chile's southern coast.

Hundreds of tourists and locals were ordered out of Chile's Torres del Paine national park on Friday as a wildfire quickly spread and extra firefighting resources were deployed.

President Sebastian Pinera declared the park a "disaster area," forcing the closure of Chile's most popular foreign attraction at least through January.

Some 700 tourists and dozens of workers were quickly evacuated and Pinera asked for firefighting backup from the U.S., Argentina and Australia.

By Friday evening the wildfire had burned more than 22,000 acres of the 600,000-acre park, which is a U.N. World Biosphere Reserve.
Gusts up to 70 mph have fanned the blaze. What caused it is still under investigation.

- MSNBC