Latin America & Caribbean

Ecuador forest fires envelope Quito in smoke

Handout photo released by Agencia Andes of a fire in the Auqui hill seen from the north of Quito on September 15, 2015. Image copyright AFP
Image caption The flames could be seen from downtown Quito

Quito was enveloped in smoke as forest fires raged around the Ecuadorean capital on Tuesday.

President Rafael Correa said he had contacted the Venezuelan authorities for help extinguishing 17 major fires across the country and that they had promised to send helicopters.

He said he would also ask Brazil, Colombia and Peru for support.

Ten people have been arrested on suspicion of setting fires in the vicinity of the capital.

The government has asked people to denounce firebugs and has offered a $50,000 (£32,500) reward for information leading to their capture.

One of the biggest fires is burning in the hills of Auqui, north-east of Quito.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The wooded hills near Quito are the perfect fuel for the fires
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The fires are getting closed to residential areas
Image copyright AFP
Image caption People in the worst affected areas got ready to leave in case the flames spread further

Dozens of firefighters are trying to stop the flames from spreading to residential areas.

Three firefighters were killed last week and many more injured.

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