RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – An illegal ornamental balloon fell into Juquery State Park, sparking a fire that consumed more than half of the grove Sunday afternoon and carried the ashes to Sao Paulo, more than 24 miles (39 kilometers) ( 24 miles) away, authorities said.
Brazilians often light small candle-powered balloons at night to enjoy a small show, despite the practice being prohibited and even punishable by fines and jail time. Sao Paulo state authorities point out that these balloons are one of the three main causes of fires each year.RELATED
Officials from the city of Franco da Rocha noted that the balloon fell on the parquet and sparked a fire that spread rapidly due to the blaze and intense heat. It is not immediately known if the drought in the country contributed to the extensive devastation.
90 firefighters and more than 100 members of the Civil Defense were deployed to fight the fire.
The Juquery Park, of around 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) was created in 1993 and preserves one of the last remnants of the Cerrado biome, in the metropolitan region of Sao Paulo.