Rio fire destroys Carnival costumes, floats

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A fire Monday gutted warehouses holding many of the elaborate, feather-and-sequin costumes and extravagant floats for Rio’s Carnival parade, destroying the dreams and hard work of thousands of mostly poor Brazilians who toil year-round to stage one of world’s most spectacular celebrations.

The fire devoured about 8,400 outfits and the ornate sets built each year in the battle to be the city’s top samba group. Three hours into the early-morning blaze, the flames were controlled and 10 warehouses were unscathed, but some of the top contenders and up-and-comers in next month’s Carnival parade were knocked out of the competition.

After the fire, many of the participants spoke of pulling together to make sure everyone had something to wear, but with just a month left before the March 6 start of the competition, there is no way to replace the labor-intensive sets. To cariocas, as the people of Rio are known, the destruction was heartbreaking.

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