Volunteer firefighter cuts heroic figure in Chile fire

VALPARAïSO, Chile (AFP) - Big-hearted Chilean Victor Hernandez, a volunteer fireman battling blazes that have charred much of Valparaiso, lost his own home when out trying to protect those of others.

"I would do it over again - a million times. Being a volunteer is a real calling," the 22-year-old paint factory worker told AFP.

Like the rest of his colleagues at Valparaiso's volunteer 4th company, Victor is desperately scrambling to control the fires which President Michelle Bachelet says could be the picturesque port city's worst.

At his age, he might be new to the calling, as he calls it. But he has four years of firefighting under his belt.

His firefighting company is pulling out all stops to get this record-breaking blaze under control once and for all. It has already claimed 15 lives and left 11,000 people homeless.

Hernandez understands the pain of all those who lost their homes. It has happened to him this week, too.