Hundreds of firefighters in the Dominican Republic are trying to extinguish a blaze that has consumed part of a protected forest in the Caribbean country's central region.

Environmental Minister Bautista Rojas says the fire began earlier this week and has burned about 10 square kilometers (four square miles) of the forest. He said Friday that a dry spell combined with high temperatures likely caused the fire.

Rescue crews have evacuated several homes and schools as a result of the fire, which is 150 kilometers (about 93 miles) northwest of the capital of Santo Domingo.

Other smaller forest fires have been reported across the country.