dpa/GNA – Dozens of families in the Paraguayan capital, Asuncion, lost their homes in a large fire on Christmas Eve, according to local media reports on Friday.

The fire, which affected 96 families and spanned some 30,000 square metres, was reportedly caused by mishandled fireworks on Thursday night, the newspaper Hoy reported.

Earlier reports indicated that up to 150 families might be affected.

The blaze began in the poor district of La Chacarita, behind the Cabildo cultural centre in the old city centre.

Officials had initially feared that important documents in the cultural centre were caught in the fire, the president of Paraguay’s Congress was quoted as saying.

But the management of the Cabildo later announced that offices and rehearsal rooms in particular had been damaged in the flames, as was another historic building in the area, which features many wooden houses.

Firefighters were only able to bring the fire under control early Friday after battling the flames for several hours.

Shelter and food, clothing and building materials are to be provided and permanent housing solutions are to be found for the families whose homes were destroyed, the Secretariat for National Emergencies (SEN) said.

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