Chile fire
Aerial view of houses destroyed by a forest fire that affected the hills of Vina del Mar, in the Valparaiso region, Chile, taken on December 23, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

SANTIAGO: A firefighter was arreste d Friday in Chile on suspicion of starting a blaze in February that killed 137 people in the resort city of Vina del Mar, authorities said.

"An arrest warrant was issued today against the person who started the fires in February in the Valparaiso region," where Vina del Mar is located, police director Eduardo Cerna told a news conference.

Several fires broke out simultaneously on February 2 around the coastal city of Vina del Mar, 70 miles (110 kilometers) northwest of Chile's capital Santiago.

The inferno was fueled by winds and a heatwave that saw temperatures of around 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

Local media reported the firefighter is a 22-year-old who joined the force a year and a half ago.

"We are completely devastated by what happened, it is a totally isolated incident... we have served Valparaiso for more than 170 years and cannot allow such things," Vicente Maggiolo, commander of the 13th Fire Company of the city of Valparaiso, told reporters.