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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Planes, Firefighters, Battle Portugal Blaze Driven by Nortada Wind

Environment

7Dnews London

Thu, 09 Aug 2018 10:28 GMT

Firefighters and anxious residents braced Tuesday for a fifth straight night of battling a major wildfire that is racing across tinder-dry forested hills in southern Portugal.

The Portuguese Civil Protection Agency said firefighters had contained 95 percent of the blaze in rolling hills by the country's southern Algarve coast, though they were wary of changes in the wind that could cause the flames to reignite.

The news brought relief for locals and tourists who spent tense hours after dark Sunday as the huge blaze passed by the outskirts of Monchique, a town of 2,000 people 250 kilometres (155 miles) south of Lisbon.

High plumes of black smoke from the wildfire could be seen from the famous beaches of Portugal's Algarve region.

As the smoke gradually cleared Monday, 13 aircraft swung into action, including two large Canadair water-dropping planes sent by Spain. More than 1,100 firefighters were deployed to fight the blaze.

Authorities said 44 people required medical assistance, including a 72-year-old woman who was seriously hurt.

The blaze erupted amid a heatwave caused by a mass of hot air from North Africa that sent temperatures in Portugal and Spain over 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) over the weekend.

The rest of Europe has also felt the torrid recent weather.

Europe