December 18, 2018 / 2:07 PM / a month ago

Fire engulfs 600 stilt homes in Brazil city Manaus; thousands flee

Residents look at houses on fire at Educando neighbourhood, a branch of the Rio Negro a tributary to the Amazon river, in the city of Manaus, Brazil December 17, 2018. Picture taken December 17, 2018. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - A fire raced through a neighborhood in the Brazilian jungle city of Manaus early on Tuesday, engulfing at least 600 wooden houses built on stilts due to seasonal floods and sending thousands fleeing from their homes.

No deaths were reported from the blaze, which authorities said may have been triggered by a pressure cooker explosion. Four people were injured, and more than 2,000 people were forced to flee, Amadeu Soares, head of the Amazonas state security ministry, told reporters at the scene.

Soares said preliminary information from residents pointed to a kitchen incident involving an exploding pressure cooker as the possible cause, though a full investigation was under way.

Television images showed desperate scenes of residents trying to flee through tight, labyrinthine alleyways. Firefighters spent several hours trying to control the blaze, but struggled to prevent houses from going up in flames.

Such fires are common in poorer neighborhoods and slums in Brazil, where scant government planning during decades of rapid urbanization resulted in informal settlements sprouting up, housing millions who sought jobs in urban centers.

Reporting by Brad Brooks; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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