Hun­dreds of fire­fight­ers bat­tle against for­est wild­fires rag­ing around Por­tu­gal

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Nearly 1,000 fire­fight­ers as well as six he­li­copters and three planes were de­ployed in Por­tu­gal Sun­day to bat­tle for­est fires rag­ing in the north and cen­ter of the coun­try, author­i­ties said.

The worst fire scorched Vila Nova de Cerveira in the north­ern Minho re­gion and was con­tin­u­ing to spread due to “dif­fi­cult to ac­cess ter­rain, wind, high tem­per­a­tures and the on­go­ing drought,” a fire ser­vice spokesman said, with 250 men bat­tling the blaze.

Por­tuguese tele­vi­sion broad­cast im­ages of fright­ened res­i­dents as the flames ap­proached their homes.

Another ma­jor fire was rag­ing at Mi­randa do Corvo, not far from the cen­tral city of Coim­bra, with homes there also threat­ened.

Around 100 kilo­me­ters (62 miles) to the east at Covilha, two fire­men were in­jured tack­ling another blaze which forced author­i­ties to evac­u­ate a camp site and a hos­tel be­fore it was brought un­der con­trol.

Af­ter hav­ing es­caped rel­a­tively un­scathed by wild­fires last year, Por­tu­gal has been hit by ma­jor for­est fires this sum­mer.

Nearly 80 per­cent of the coun­try’s ter­ri­tory is con­sid­ered to be in a se­vere drought, a sit­u­a­tion that is likely to get worse in Au­gust, ac­cord­ing to the Por­tuguese me­te­oro- log­i­cal agency IPMA.

Por­tu­gal also con­trib­uted about 100 fire­fight­ers and dozens of ve­hi­cles to the bat­tle against a wild­fire in Estremadura in western Spain that rav­aged nearly 6,500 hectares, but which was brought un­der con­trol Sun­day.

Some 2,400 res­i­dents who were evac­u­ated from their homes were al­lowed to re­turn, and roads that were closed have re­opened, Span­ish of­fi­cials said.

Wild­fires have de­stroyed more than 54,000 hectares of agri­cul­tural and for­est land in Spain this year, ex­ceed­ing the area burned over the last two years com­bined, ac­cord­ing to the agri­cul­ture min­istry.

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