July 30, 2017 / 4:03 PM / in 4 months

Brazil's velodrome fire extinguished

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A fire at Brazil’s Olympic velodrome was put out on Sunday by fire fighters who battled for hours to extinguish the blaze in Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic Park, the country’s Sports Minister said.

Officials were still to determine the extent of the damage to a facility opened little over a year ago especially for the 2016 Olympics.

The blaze was caused by a burning flying lantern that fell on the building during Saturday night, Minister Leandro Picciani said on twitter.

“Absurd! In addition to the lantern that burned the velodrome several others fell in the Olympic Park,” Picciani tweeted along with footage of falling lanterns.

The practice of making small hot air balloons is a common one in Brazil, especially during the hot, dry months of June and July, and authorities have launched annual campaigns to criminalize the practice.

Flying balloons can hamper aircraft and falling balloons can cause damage property and start forest fires.

The velodrome uses special pine wood only found in Siberia and was one of the last venues to be ready for the Olympics.

Like many of the Olympic venues, it was not used for months after the games ended in September and only hosted its first post-Olympic event in May.

(This version of the story has been refiled to remove word from lede)

Reporting by Pedro Fonseca, Writing by Andrew Downie; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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