Chile factory fire spews smoke cloud over capital Santiago

By Natalia A. Ramos Miranda

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - A huge fire at a factory in Santiago spewed out a dense gray plume of smoke over the Chilean capital city on Monday, forcing some planes to be diverted and neighborhood schools and nurseries to be suspended.

The fire broke out at factory of construction materials in the municipality of Quilicura, in the north of Santiago. Videos showed a dark pillar of smoke rising into the sky and spreading out above the city amid blustery conditions.

A report from the Santiago international airport fire and security office said that the plume of smoke did not affect the operation of the terminals, but that some planes flying from south to north were being diverted, local press reported.

"The advice is that people should not expose themselves and should close windows. If they have a major discomfort, go to a nearby health center," said Miguel Muñoz, regional director of the National Emergency Office (Onemi).

He added in statements to reporters that all types of smoke were toxic and the impact would depend on exposure and concentration of the smoke. He advised against physical activity outdoors and said nearby nurseries and schools had been closed.

"You can see that the column is gaining in height, obviously it is going to move towards other neighborhoods."

The fire also forced the diversion of traffic in the area, which has major highways with cargo trucks and other vehicles.

(Reporting by Natalia Ramos; Editing by Fabián Cambero and Marguerita Choy)