Evacuations underway in Argentina's Cordoba as wildfires grow amid heat wave


Dozens of people were evacuated from their homes in Argentina's central Cordoba province on Tuesday as wildfires grew amid an intense heat wave.

Images and video from the area showed massive flames in hills surrounding populated areas as firefighters worked to combat the flames that had reached some homes in the region. It was not immediately clear how many homes had been affected by the flames.

A total of 960 firefighters were working to combat the wildfires with eight firefighting planes and two helicopters, the provincial government said Tuesday evening. Local media reported that dozens of people had been evacuated.

There was hope that rains expected Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning could help calm the fires that had spread rapidly due to strong winds.

"I call on the population to respect the indications of the firefighters and authorities who are working in the affected areas," Cordoba Gov. Juan Schiaretti wrote on social media. "The most important thing is to save lives, wherever evacuation is necessary, it will be done."

There were five active wildfires in the region Tuesday, according to Argentina's National Fire Management Service."

Ulises Xarate, 27, has been detained accused of starting a fire Monday afternoon in an area close to the city of Villa Carlos Paz in the province's Punilla region, according to local media citing prosecutor Jorgelina Gómez.

Xarate reportedly told police he started a campfire to make coffee and lost control of the flames due to strong winds.

The provincial government said it had sent trucks with potable waters, food, mattresses and blankets to the affected areas.

"We request that prevention measures be taken to the highest degree, as the weather conditions are adverse," Cordoba's Government and Security Minister Julián López wrote on social media.