More than 1,100 firefighters mobilise to tackle wildfires in Portugal

  07 August 2018    Read: 749
More than 1,100 firefighters mobilise to tackle wildfires in Portugal @Daily Mail

More than 1,100 firefighters have mobilized in Portugal as wildfires continue to burn into the fourth day. 

As the sweltering weather continues in Europe, a four-day wildfire has battered the south coast of Portugal.

At least 44 people required medical assistance as the blaze passed by the outskirts of Monchique, 155 miles south of Lisbon, the Civil Protection Agency said. 

Authorities said that more than 1,100 firefighters with 327 vehicles and eight aircraft were battling the fires that had erupted amid a heatwave caused by a mass of hot air from North Africa. 

"We are facing a new reality," EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides said.

As a result, the EU must "collectively (be) better prepared and stronger in responding to multiple disasters across the continent," he added. 

After four days of intense heat that broke records in Portugal, with temperatures surpassing 45C, a slight dip in temperature is expected. 

This could help create "much more favourable" conditions for firefighters tackling the Monchique blaze, local fire chief Abel Gomes told a news conference. 

Parts of the south and northeast of the country did however remain at "extreme risk" of wildfires, according to the national weather agency's forecast. 

Spain sent two Canadair water-dropping planes across the border Monday to help efforts around Monchique. 

Overnight, dozens of homes and a hotel were evacuated around the town of about 2,000 people, which is known for its spa. 

The wind-driven fire has been racing across tinder-dry pine and eucalyptus forests in a largely inaccessible hill range behind the famous beaches of Portugal's Algarve vacation region. 

Plumes of black smoke have blown across beaches popular with European tourists. 

The rest of Europe has also felt the torrid recent weather

In France, where four nuclear reactors have been temporarily closed due to the heat, three cities banned the most polluting cars from the roads because of heat-linked ozone pollution. 

The heat wave in France is expected to last until Thursday, with temperatures peaking Tuesday. 

In Norway, authorities warned motorists to watch out for reindeer and sheep taking shelter from the heat in tunnels. 

Neighbouring Sweden has been fighting an uncommon number of wildfires this summer, even above the Arctic Circle, and a European Union official pointed his finger at climate change. 


The Independent

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