According to reports, the fire broke out near one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites on Tuesday, destroying about 100 hectares of land – the equivalent of about 50 football fields. About 20 hectares (49 acres) were affected by the fire on Wednesday, the mayor of the nearby city of Cusco said.
Its remoteness also hampered efforts to contain the fire.
Machu Picchu, a complex of stone structures atop a mountain, was built more than 500 years ago by the Incas, whose empires controlled large parts of South America, from what is now southern Ecuador to central Chile.
The fire, which engulfed a remote area about six miles from the spectacular high-altitude citadel, according to the Peruvian culture ministry, was reportedly sparked by farmers who cleared land to grow crops.
Roberto Abarca, director of Cusco’s risk management and safety agency, told Reuters on Thursday: “We have been fighting the wildfire for two days and have not been able to get it under control as the area is quite inaccessible. “
But on Thursday evening, Peruvian authorities announced that 90 percent of the fire had been extinguished by dozens of firefighters and police officers.
They claimed that Machu Picchu itself was not affected.
The mayor of the Machupicchu district, Darwin Baca León, told the Peruvian radio station RPP: “Fortunately, it has been possible to [the fire]†
The mayor admitted that firefighters were still trying to contain some smaller outbreaks in the mountains that remained “active.”
READ MORE: Hundreds of tractors block the German/Dutch border
Hiram Bingham wrote in the New York Times that the stunning stone work and abundance of stone dwellings led him to suspect that the Andean city “might well be the greatest and most important ruin discovered in South America since the days of the Spanish conquest”.
Mr. Bingham offered the name “Machu Picchu” for the area he had rediscovered and brought to global attention.
However, a recent scientific paper questioned whether that was the right one.
The authors said the UNESCO World Heritage Site was actually known as Huayna Picchu, after a mountain peak above the ruins, or simply Picchu.