Disasters & Accidents

Thousands evacuated as wildfires burn across Portugal

Lisbon, Aug 8 (EFE). Wildfires raging in Portugal have destroyed thousands of hectares of land and have forced the evacuation of about 1,500 people, while authorities are investigating the possibility of arson.

In Odemira (Alentejo), firefighters managed Tuesday to stabilize the perimeter of the fire that broke out three days earlier but warned that there were still “critical points” and that the blaze cannot be considered under control.

The wind and the high temperatures are hindering the extinguishing efforts in the area -about 200 kilometers south of Lisbon-, where about 1,500 residents were evacuated as a precautionary measure on Monday.

More than 800 firefighters, supported by 266 vehicles and 10 aircraft, were fighting the flames on Monday night across an area of more than 6,000 hectares, a situation that the Civil Protection agency said is “absolutely exceptional”.

In Leiria, some 150 kilometers north of Lisbon, the fires have devastated some 400 hectares and arson has not been not ruled out as a cause.

“It is not normal to have so many consecutive ignitions in critical places,” Luis Lopes, spokesman for Civil Protection in Leiria, told local media Tuesday.

The fires that ravaged the neighborhoods of Arrabal and Carangujeira on Monday, which devastated some 500 hectares, were brought under control during the early hours of Tuesday morning and, although they threatened urban areas, so far only one house has been damaged and four people have been slightly injured.

Firefighters have already brought under control a fire that broke out in Vila do Conde, in Porto, that forced the closure of roads during the early morning, although dozens of troops remain in the area to prevent it from spreading again.

The latest heat wave in Portugal, with temperatures that can exceed 40 degrees, has raised the risk of fires in 120 areas although, for the moment, the government has not declared a state of alert.EFE


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