Peru's Machu Picchu ruins threatened by forest fires

Emergency crews fight blaze close to ancient city high in Andes

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Firefighters were battling a blaze near the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu on Thursday.

The forest fire was closing in on the ancient city high in the Andes Mountains in Peru.

It had engulfed an area about half the size of Vatican City after starting on Tuesday when farmers burnt grass and debris to prepare to sow new crops.

As of Wednesday, about 20 hectares had been affected by the fire, the mayor of the nearby city of Cusco said.

Machu Picchu, a complex of stone structures sitting on top of a mountain, was built more than 500 years ago by the Incas, whose empire controlled swathes of South America from what is today southern Ecuador to central Chile.

The fire's remoteness has hindered firefighters' efforts.

“We have already been fighting the forest fire for two days and it has not been possible to get it under control, given the area is quite inaccessible,” said Roberto Abarca, director of the Cusco risk management and security office.

The breathtaking ruins, which have made the surrounding Cusco region Peru's top tourist destination, are considered one of the new seven wonders of the world.

Updated: July 01, 2022, 11:54 AM