Rio de Janeiro – An as-yet-uncontrolled fire has destroyed 80 percent of the vegetation in the Rola Moca nature reserve in the southeastern Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, firefighters reported Monday.
The park's 3,941 hectares (9,730 acres) extends into several municipalities in the metropolitan area of Belo Horizonte, the state capital.
The fire started three days ago and so far firefighters have been unable to bring it completely under control, and early Monday morning, aided by two helicopters, they resumed their efforts to combat the flames and prevent them from spreading.
The fire is threatening condominiums in residential areas near the park and several people have had to evacuate their homes as the flames have moved closer.
The nature reserve serves as a refuge for endangered species such as the brown jaguar and maned wolf.
Residents of Minas Gerais are also threatened by another forest fire that began last Thursday and has already destroyed 500 hectares (about 1,250 acres) of the Serra do Cipo National Park, some 90 kilometers (56 miles) from Belo Horizonte.
Firefighters estimate that about 6,500 hectares (some 16,250 acres) of nature reserve in and around Belo Horizonte have already been destroyed by fire so far this year.
The wildfires are the result of too little rain in recent weeks in different regions of Brazil.
Brasilia, the capital, suffered through 107 days of drought up until Sunday night, when finally some rain began to fall.
In mid-September, large areas of the Brasilia National Park also were consumed by a huge fire.