LIMA – A fire left hundreds of people homeless in the early hours Friday after destroying the rustic shelters of an indigenous Amazonian community that had settled on the banks of the Rimac River near the historic colonial district of Lima, officials said.
According to volunteer firefighters, the blaze broke out in the market of the Shipibo-Konibo community of Cantagallo and spread rapidly to consume their hundreds of flimsy dwellings.
Several firefighting units responded to the emergency and in a couple of hours managed to control the flames, though they have not yet been completely extinguished.
The firefighters’ commander, Manuel Vera, said the blaze burned “between 300 and 400 homes,” affecting “around 700 people.”
“The fire is under control. We’re removing the rubble and putting out some flames that are still burning combustible material,” he said.
He added that no humans have been reported dead or injured, but some dogs and cats were caught in the blaze.
Lima’s Mayor Luis Castańeda told reporters that the fire “broke out at around 2:00 a.m.,” and added that “it has caused a series of damages” that his office seeks to “alleviate immediately, above all among the more vulnerable sectors.”
“I’m talking about children, mothers, those who have suffered the most,” he said.
The deputy director of Lima municipality’s emergency management agency, Mario Casaretto, said that those affected will be taken to a shelter and that the municipal government has provided them with tents and food.
“We’re concerned about this but believe it will speed things up and that somehow the decisions will be taken that need to be taken,” he said with reference to plans already in the works to relocate the Amazonian community to another part of Lima.
The Cantagallo community was established more than 15 years ago by a group of families of the Shipibo-Konibo ethnicity from the Amazon region of Ucayali, who settled on the site of an old garbage dump on the Rimac River.