Portugal Wildfires – Hundreds Of Firefighters Tackle Blaze In Odemira
Tourists have been forced to flee raging wildfires in Portugal, with the flames now heading for the Algarve.
More than 1,000 firefighters are battling a series of blazes in the Iberian nation as it and neighbouring Spain swelter in extreme summer heat.
Temperatures in many areas are rising above 40 degrees Celsius (104 F) – with the mercury tipping 46 degrees on Santarem, 50 miles north of the capital, Lisbon.
Three major fires were raging yesterday on Tuesday, with the biggest in the southwest near the town of Odemira, in the Alentejo region, where on Monday roughly 1,400 people were evacuated from villages and a camp site as a precaution.
The National Civil Protection Service said about 1,000 firefighters, 320 vehicles and nine aircraft were deployed at that fire on Tuesday. It has so far scorched around 7,000 hectares (17,300 acres). Dramatic pictures showed them battling fierce flames.
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The fire has since spread south towards Algarve, popular with British tourists. More than one million of them visited Portugal as a whole last year.
Odemira’s mayor, Helder Guerreiro, told reporters the situation was “critical, difficult and complex”, while Jose Ribeiro, the commander of the emergency and civil protection authority, described it as a “worrying situation”.
The recent spate of wildfires comes as temperatures have spiked.
Temperatures were forecast to fall nationwide later this week, though they will mostly remain above 30 C (86 F).
Spain is faring better with its wildfires this week despite the high temperatures of the country’s third heat wave this summer.
Officials said three fires which started over the weekend have been brought under control or had been extinguished.
The biggest blaze, in the northeast, burned about 600 hectares (1,500 acres) and required the evacuation of 150 people.
The only fire out of control in Spain is in the southwest near the Portuguese border. Some 20 people in two rural hostels were evacuated.
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Strong winds were reported to be complicating firefighting efforts.
Spain’s AEMET weather agency said temperatures will continue to rise at least until Friday, with some areas of the southern Andalusia region hitting 44 C (111 F).
A drought in Spain for the past two years has led to water restrictions in several parts of the country.
Spain’s Ecological Transition Ministry said Tuesday that reservoirs nationally were at 41 percent of their capacity owing to high temperatures and the severe lack of rain.
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