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Chilean harvest festival ends in flames

The harvest festival of Marchigüe in Colchagua took a turn for the worse, with fire engulfing over 110 festival stands belonging to small wine producers, artisans and food providers.

The three-day harvest festival in the coastal region of Colchagua was supposed to run from Friday 8 through to Sunday 10 March, however the ferocious fire started on Saturday evening consuming the festival stands within minutes.

Fortunately no grave injuries have been reported, and attendees were immediately evacuated from the festival as local firefighters arrived.

The annual ‘Fiesta de la Vendimia Marchigüe’ is a popular wine festival that is particularly wellknown for hosting many of the smaller, artisanal wine producers of the region.

The fire is believed to have started in a food stand, and quickly spread throughout the exhibition which was being held in the ‘Medialuna Monumental de Marchigüe’ — a large ring used for horse shows and events.

While the festival was being held in the town of Marchigüe, at some distance from the vineyards and wine region, Chile remains on high alert for forest fires this summer.

Last month, a series of devastating wild fires ripped through the city and region of Valparaíso killing over 130 people in the country’s worst natural disaster since the 2010 earthquake. There are so far no reports of damage to vineyards from the February fires, although over 1,600 people were left homeless from the tragedy.

Amanda Barnes is the drinks business´ regular South America correspondent and author of The South America Wine Guide.

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