Portugal battles wildfire as heatwave persists

LISBON (AFP) – Hundreds of Portuguese firefighters on Tuesday (Aug 17) struggled to control a blistering blaze that broke out in southern Portugal the day before, forcing the evacuation of around 60 people.

Portugal is the latest European nation to face extreme weather and fierce fires, which climate scientists warn will become increasingly common due to man-made global warming.

Firefighters managed to control the wildfire that broke out early Monday morning near the Spanish border in the touristic region of Algarve, but the blaze picked up again in the afternoon, spreading across around 3,000ha.

“The fire is progressing with intensity,” a local official of the national authority for civil protection told AFP.

One firefighter was sent to hospital after being burned and two others were treated after inhaling smoke, a spokesperson for civil protection told AFP.

An agricultural building perched on a hill surrounded by orchards was engulfed by the flames, according to local reports.

As the flames spread through pine forests towards the coast, authorities closed the motorway that crosses Algarve, which remained cut off on Tuesday.

Faced with scorching temperatures, the government decided on Monday to extend the fire alert in place since Friday by 48 hours.

Spain, Italy, Greece, Algeria and Turkey have all experienced heatwaves and devastating wildfires this summer.

In 2017, fires killed dozens of people in Portugal.

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