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Peru’s Machu Picchu threatened by wildfire

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On Thursday, Peruvian firefighters were battling a forest fire near the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, which threatened to engulf the ancient city high in the Andes.

The fire, which had engulfed an area roughly half the size of Vatican City, was started on Tuesday by farmers preparing to sow new crops by burning grass and debris.

According to the mayor of the nearby city of Cusco, the fire had affected approximately 20 hectares (49 acres) as of Wednesday.

The Incas built Machu Picchu, a complex of stone structures atop a mountain, more than 500 years ago, when their empire controlled large swaths of South America from what is now southern Ecuador to central Chile.

The fire’s remoteness has hindered firefighters’ efforts.

“We’ve already been fighting the forest fire for two days and haven’t been able to put it out because the area is 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 world’s new seven wonders.

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