LIMA - Wildfires have torn through more than 22,000 hectares (54,363 acres) of forest, protected areas and farmland in drought-striken parts of Peru as the Andean country suffers one of its driest periods in years, authorities said on Thursday.
The spate of wildfires in the past week were likely started by accident after peasant farmers burned fields to prepare them for planting, said Edgar Ortega with Peru's Civil Defense Institute.
Strong winds fanned the flames that quickly crossed the highland regions of Cajamarca and Lambayeque, which are experiencing prolonged droughts, Ortega said.
"In some areas the fires are contained but still not extinguished," Ortega told a news conference.
The military has deployed planes and helicopters to douse the flames with water, but firefighting has been constrained by high altitudes and difficult geography in some Andean provinces.