September 25, 2008 / 9:14 PM / in 10 years

Fire burns ancient sites near Peru's Machu Picchu

LIMA (Reuters) - A forest fire has damaged two archeological sites in the valley between the Peruvian city of Cuzco and the ancient Incan fortress of Machu Picchu, Peru’s national institute of culture said on Wednesday.

At least 600 firefighters are battling the blaze high in the Andes mountains. They have brought the fire under control at times, only to see it whipped up again by winds.

Two ancient sites, Wayna Q’ente and Torontoy, were hit by flames, though the government did not say how extensive the damage was.

At one point, the fire threatened a train line that runs to Machu Picchu, but the popular tourist attraction remains open, along with the Incan trails used by hikers.

Farmers in the area, which contains dozens of ancient ruins, often set fires to help clear land.

Reporting by Carlos Valdez; Writing by Terry Wade; Editing by Chris Wilson

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