A wildfire has damaged dozens of homes outside a port city in Chile.

The federal government has declared an alert over the fires as at least 100 hectares (250 acres) were burned by the afternoon on Tuesday near Valparaiso.

Men look at houses burning during a forest fire at the Rocuant hill in Valparaiso, Chile, on December 24, 2019. - Some 50 houses were affected by a forest fire Tuesday in Valparaiso, where a red alert was declared. (Photo by RAUL ZAMORA / ATON CHILE / AFP) / Chile OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / ATON / RAUL ZAMORA " - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS-CHILE OUT (Photo by RAUL ZAMORA/ATON CHILE/AFP via Getty Images)
Image: An alert was declared by the government
A helicopter transports water to extinguish a forest fire near the Rocuant hill in Valparaiso, Chile, on December 25, 2019. - More than 100 houses were affected by a forest fire Tuesday in Valparaiso, where a red alert was declared. (Photo by Pablo Rojas Maradiaga / AFP) (Photo by PABLO ROJAS MARADIAGA/AFP via Getty Images)
Image: Firefighters were helped by water dropped from helicopters

Firefighters from Valparaiso and Vina del Mar battled the tongues of flames with help from helicopters dropping water.

Agriculture minister Antonio Walker said at least 120 homes were affected.

TOPSHOT - A man looks at the destruction caused by a forest fire at the Rocuant hill in Valparaiso, Chile, on December 25, 2019. - More than 100 houses were affected by a forest fire Tuesday in Valparaiso, where a red alert was declared. (Photo by Pablo Rojas Maradiaga / AFP) (Photo by PABLO ROJAS MARADIAGA/AFP via Getty Images)
Image: More than 100 homes were damaged
A man looks at the destruction caused by a forest fire at the Rocuant hill in Valparaiso, Chile, on December 25, 2019. - More than 100 houses were affected by a forest fire Tuesday in Valparaiso, where a red alert was declared. (Photo by Pablo Rojas Maradiaga / AFP) (Photo by PABLO ROJAS MARADIAGA/AFP via Getty Images)
Image: Fires covered 250 acres
People react next to the debris of their house following the spread of wildfires in Valparaiso, Chile, December 24, 2019. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido
Image: People look at the debris of their home

Footage from the scene showed people walking through smoke carrying bags and pets to escape.

The fires were fanned by strong winds, but authorities have suggested they may have been started by an arson attack.

A Firefighter reacts after to work to extinguish a fire following the spread of wildfires in Valparaiso, Chile December 24, 2019. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido
Image: A firefighter covers his mouth as he tries to clear the debris
People gather personal belongings during an evacuation following the spread of wildfires in Valparaiso, Chile, December 24, 2019. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido
Image: People gather their tree as they return to their home

Ezio Passadore, emergency manager for Valparaiso, said: “We’re not certain, but everything indicates that yesterday’s fire was intentional, and began in an area quite close to the homes.”

Many homes in the area do not have running water and get their supply from tankers which come a couple of times a week.

Chile is also contending with its worst drought on record.