Peruvian firefighters are battling to contain a forest fire near Machu Picchu, the Inca citadel, as flames threaten to approach the world-renowned archaeological site in the Andes.
The fire, which has burned an area roughly half the size of Vatican City, broke out on Tuesday when farmers set fire to low vegetation as they prepared their fields for new sowing.
As of yesterday Wednesday, some 200 acres of land had been charred, according to the mayor of the nearby city of Cusco.
Machu Picchu, a mountaintop complex of stone structures, was built more than 500 years ago by the Inca empire, which stretched across much of South America, from Ecuador to Chile.
The archaeological site and breathtaking views have turned the province of Cusco into Peru’s top tourist destination and is considered one of the seven modern wonders of the world.
The fact that the flames are burning in an inaccessible, isolated area complicates the operations of the fire department.
“We have been fighting this fire for two days and it has not been possible to control it, as the area is impassable,” explained Roberto Abarca, the director of the risk response service in the province of Cusco.