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Famed Machu Picchu Ruins Threatened By Fire

The Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, South America’s leading archeological treasure, were threatened Monday by a large forest fire in Peru’s southern Andes mountains.

Machu Picchu, located 300 miles southeast of Lima, is Peru’s top tourist destination, receiving 1,000 visitors daily. The flames were only 1,000 feet from the stone ruins - which are perched atop a craggy mountain with a spectacular view of the gorge below.

More than 400 firefighters and volunteers were wetting down vegetation near the ruins to prevent the fire from spreading, said Carlos Valencia, president of the Inka Region that includes Machu Picchu. Smoke from the fire filled the ruins, reducing visibility.

Authorities said Machu Picchu was safe from the flames, but they have evacuated guests from a nearby hotel and sealed off the region to tourists.