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Fires erupt near Amazon tourist town in Brazil

September 16, 2019 GMT

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Fires have broken out near a Brazilian town popular among tourists for its beaches on an Amazon river tributary.

Officials in Brazil’s Para state say the fires around Alter do Chao started in several areas over the weekend and that firefighters were still working to put them out on Monday.

The state government says it asked the military for help.

Brazilian state monitors have reported over 121,000 fires throughout the country so far this year, about 50 percent more than in the same period in 2018.

Brazil has temporarily banned most legal fires in the Amazon. Ranchers routinely clear land with fire for crops, livestock and other uses.

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The fires have intensified concern about the Amazon region’s rainforests, a major absorber of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.