A huge fire in Heliopolis, Sao Paulo's largest "favela," or shantytown, killed at least three people and injured eight, two of them critically, the city's fire department said Sunday.

The bodies of the three fatalities, who have not been identified, were severely burned, while the injured suffered burns and are showing symptoms of smoke inhalation.

The fire broke out in a shack in the favela about 1 a.m. (0400 GMT) on Sunday and spread rapidly, ultimately affecting about 40 residences, all of which were destroyed.

Firefighters, who brought the blaze under control after about three hours, still have not announced what the cause of the fire was. EFE