Tulum, Mexico (AFP) – A fire in the Andes has killed at least 12 people and left more than 30,000 others homeless, officials said on Friday, as authorities struggle to contain a raging blaze.
The Tulum-based state government said in a statement the blaze in the mountainous northern state of Oaxaca was set by a cattle rancher who “lacked the skills and resources to manage the fire properly”.
The National Institute of Fire Protection and Prevention said it was also in the process of verifying the identity of the rancher.
Authorities in the state of Morelos said there were no fatalities but a further 14 people were still being treated for burns.
The blaze was sparked by a massive blizzard that blanketed much of the region on Thursday, prompting officials to ask tourists to stay indoors.
The fire broke out around 8:30pm local time (0530 GMT) in the town of San Miguel, where it was extinguished by late Friday.
The fires in the region of Oxtunato and Pachuca are the most severe in Mexico in more than 20 years, killing at least 1,500 people.
The worst of the fire was in the remote and mountainous town of Guadalajara, where there were more than 600 firefighters fighting the blaze.
There were no reports of injuries.
Oxtunatos state governor Jose Angel Gonzalez said the fire had been brought under control by midday.
“The fire has been brought to a safe state,” he told reporters.
The death toll in the province rose to at least 11 on Friday.
Tulum is about 150km (93 miles) north of Ocotillo, on the northern border with Guatemala.
There have been reports of more than 10,000 people being displaced from their homes and more than 1,000 have died.
The governor of Pachucas state, Eduardo Rangel, said at least one more person was in critical condition.
A second person, who had reportedly escaped the blaze, had also been taken to a hospital in the capital, Mexico City, where he was listed in serious condition.
In Tulum state, some residents were staying at hotels and taking them offline.
There are no roads or power lines in the area.