July 1 (UPI) -- A wildfire in Peru is threatening the iconic Incan ruins of Machu Picchu after a blaze burned 49 acres in the Andean mountains on Thursday, officials said.
Smoke continued to billow from the archaeological reserve near Machu Picchu, where firefighters are struggling to combat the flames due to high-powered winds and rugged terrain.
Because of its remoteness, crews had to carry in backpacks of water to protect the ruins.
The Peruvian government said in a translated statement that the fire in the Pampacahua sector had been difficult to control on the right flank because of the winds.
Officials said they have fought the blaze for three days using a forest firefighters brigade from the National Service of Natural Protected Areas.
Machu Picchu stands nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest in Peru. It was once the Incas crown jewel of urban living at the height of their empire, with giant walls, terraces and ramps in the continuous rock escarpments some 500 years ago.