Valparaiso, Chile (PRWEB) April 15, 2014
A fast-moving fire that started April 12 in Chile’s port city of Valparaiso has claimed the lives of two sponsored members of the Unbound community, forced thousands to evacuate and destroyed hundreds of homes.
Luis Olivares, Unbound staff member in Valparaiso, reported that about 400 sponsored friends and their families live in or near the area affected by the fire. Those who lost their lives were elderly persons sponsored through the Unbound program.
Unbound is a Kansas City-based nonprofit that has been working in Chile since 1982. The organization assists more than 3,800 children and 645 elderly people in Chile through its sponsorship program.
Unbound staffers will continue to reach out to families to determine how many have been affected and offer assistance. Communication continues to be a challenge in the aftermath of the fire.
The fire spread rapidly from strong Pacific coast winds across the forest and hilly neighborhoods, according to Reuters. The hillside and closely-spaced homes make it difficult to fight fires.
Olivares said more than 10,000 people have evacuated the area, and a former Unbound staffer's father died in the fire.
"Unfortunately, people have lost everything they had, and it all came down to ashes," Olivares said. "Saturday, we began providing evacuation shelters for many of the sponsored families."
Unbound staff members quickly established an emergency plan to help sponsored friends affected by the fire, which continued to burn April 13.
"We don't know when this will end," Olivares said, "but it has our cities surrounded with military, police, ashes, helicopters, sirens and people crying in the streets.
"I have never been in a war, but this is what I feel a war zone would look like."
Members of the Unbound worldwide community hold those impacted by the tragic fire in their thoughts and prayers.
Unbound works directly with children, families and the elderly in 21 developing countries as they confront the challenges of poverty and work toward a better life. With more than 266,000 sponsors throughout the United States, Unbound has sponsors in every state.