(Bloomberg) -- Wildfires raging across central Chile burnedthe rural town of Santa Olga last night as temperatures hit recordhighs and authorities struggled to cope in a country accustomed tonatural disasters.

The fires destroyed as many as 1,000 homes late yesterday inSanta Olga, 260 kilometers to the south of Santiago, according toCarlos Valenzuela, the mayor of the neighboring city ofConstitucion. The blazes have now cost the lives of sevenfirefighters, police and local citizens.

“Thousands of people have lost their homes,” Valenzuela toldRadio Cooperativa. “There are areas that have been completelyabandoned and handed over to the fire. Unfortunately, they arebeing razed to the ground.”

$170M agricultural loss already


Since coming to power in March 2014, President Michelle Bachelethas had to deal with a series of natural disasters, includingearthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods and fires. The latestdisaster has already cost the agricultural sector alone $170million, according to estimates by ColliersInternational. Finance Minister Rodrigo Valdes told reportersMonday that the government could deal with the current fireswithout extra borrowing. Since then though, the devastation hasworsened.

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