Peru Battles Forest Fire Near Machu Picchu

Peru Battles Forest Fire Near Machu Picchu

22 September 2010

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Peru —  Peruvian police are trying to extinguish a forest fire that broke out a day ago inside the Machu Picchu environmental reserve about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the famous Inca citadel, authorities said Monday.

Regional commander Nilo Chavez told the official Andina news agency that they are continuing to work at dousing the flames.

He said that police are working in teams with local residents on the El Calvario peak near the EGEMSA electric plant.

The blaze started Sunday for causes still unknown along the railroad line between Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu, in a very wild place that is hard to reach.

“The extent of the area devastated by the fire is unknown,” Chavez said.

For his part, the head of the Machu Picchu archaeological park, Fernando Astete, said that double the work is expected to be done with the support of personnel from the Environment Ministry and the National Culture Institute.

“We’re waiting to see the police reports to send aid. Yesterday they managed to control areas where big tongues of flame were shooting up, but at night suspended their work. At the moment there is a huge cloud of smoke,” Astete said, adding that the ruins have not been touched by the fire.

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