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Smoke blankets Santiago as firefighters battle forest fires

ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Raging forest fires in central Chile drove residents from their homes and forced authorities to declare a red alert in the area on Saturday. High temperatures, dry air and strong wind converged to fan the flames as firefighters battled the blaze in Constitucion, located in the Maule region, just south of Santiago. According to the head of the Fire Management Department of Chile's National Forest Corporation (CONAF), Dante Bravo, crews were fighting 19 fires in the Maule region on Friday (January 3). According to information issued by Santiago's Catholic University's Center of Toxicology Information, the cloud covering the capital generates a "complex mix of hot air, solid and liquid particles in suspension and toxic gases that contain material extremely dangerous to the health of people and the environment."

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