Madrid - More than 2 100 firefighters have been deployed across
Portugal to combat fires in more than 170 locations barely two months
after a series of devastating fires in the country claimed 64 lives.
The mass deployment also involved a total 680 vehicles and 15
aircraft, the Portuguese civil defence reported in Lisbon on Friday.
A man on the balcony of a house looks up at a forest fire raging on a hillside above the village of Avelar, central Portugal. Picture: Armando Franca/AP
The fires were at their worst in the municipality of Abrantes, some
130 kilometres north-east of Lisbon. On Thursday, the residents of
four villages under immediate threat from the intense blazes were
brought to safety.
Some of the mostly elderly residents were in a state of panic, the
television news station TVI24 reported. In the village of Aldeia do
Mato, an 80-year-old woman's house was completely destroyed by
Portuguese National Republican Guard firefighters work to stop a forest fire from reaching the village of Avelar, central Portugal. Picture: Armando Franca/AP
A highway and a country road were also closed off for several
kilometres overnight on Thursday due to the billowing flames, but
have since be reopened.
Despite a persistent drought in the region and strong winds, almost
all of the fires were brought under control during the night, said
Maria do Ceu Albuquerque, mayor of Abrantes, to local TV station RTP.
A number of people have been killed in forest fires in central Portugal, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over roads. Picture: Armando Franca/AP
"There is only one dangerous fire location left, but it will still
give us a lot of work," she said.
In many regions, highly flammable eucalyptus trees have been the main
cause of the fires. This had also been the case with the severe fires
that tore through the Pedrogao Grande municipality in the centre of
the country, some 50 kilometres south-east of the city of Coimbra, in
In addition to the 64 fatalities caused by the June fires, 20 000
hectares of land were destroyed. According to official data, around
138 000 hectares of forest have been destroyed in Portugal since
The country is experiencing its worst year for fires since 2005, when
321 000 hectares were destroyed by forest fires.