NewsWorldFirefighters scramble to put out flames in heatwave-hit Portugal

Firefighters scramble to put out flames in heatwave-hit Portugal

Several wildfires swept across Portugal’s central region on Tuesday (July 12), forcing the evacuation of hundreds of locals as firefighters struggled to put out flames at a time the country is battling a sweltering heatwave.

With temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in many parts, a major wildfire that started last week in the Ourém municipality, north of Lisbon, was reignited on Tuesday due to strong winds.

The Civil Protection authority said 300 people were evacuated from several villages. In the nearby municipality of Leiria, some houses burned down, with the blazes causing the closure of the three main highways.

Joaquim Gomes, a 75-year-old retiree who has lived in a tiny village in Ourém for five decades, said he was afraid the wildfire could reach his home but was willing to do everything in his power to help fight it.

“I don’t remember anything like what is happening today,” he said near the village’s bar where locals were gathered. “It (the fire) is everywhere.”

Many locals have complained there were not enough firefighters and resources to combat the fires.

Around 1,700 firefighters backed by 501 vehicles were tackling 14 active blazes across the country, according to the Civil Protection. More than half of the country is on “red alert”, the highest level.

In neighbouring Spain, at least 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) have been destroyed by a fire in Las Hurdes in Extremadura, western Spain, forcing the evacuation of about 400 residents, the regional government said on Tuesday.

There was a high risk of wildfires in the central region of Castille and Leon, authorities said.

The northwestern province of Ourense was on red alert as temperatures were expected to reach 42 C (107.6 Fahrenheit).


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