Wildfires hit Portugal as huge blaze sets national park near Lisbon alight

Wildfires which have spread across at least nine Mediterranean countries – including the Greek islands of Corfu and Rhodes – have now hit Portugal.

Strong winds have complicated firefighters efforts to tackle the blaze which has hit the popular holiday destination of Cascais, 40 minutes drive to the west of Lisbon.

Hundreds of firefighters scrambled to the mountainous region of Sintra-Cascais, which covers around 145 square kilometres (56 square miles) of land, at 5pm on Tuesday to the wildfire which is still active.

Desperate residents have been trying to protect their homes with buckets of water and hosepipes as strong winds caused the flames to spread.

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Around 600 firefighters were brought in after the wildfire erupted and water bombing planes have also been used to tackle the blaze.

‘The fear now is that it will get to the houses,’ said 34-year-old Ines Figueiredo as smoke filled the air.

‘We try to help as much as we can with buckets (of water)… but it’s not worth much.’

Mayor of Cascais Carlos Carreiras said gusts of up to 60 kph were the biggest challenge ahead, and a number of people had been evacuated as a precaution.

‘They (firefighters) do what they can,’ said Miguel Medeiros, a local resident who has helped fight the flames. ‘It’s difficult for everyone.’

So far no houses have been damaged and no major injuries have been reported, according to local authorities.

Portugal has so far escaped the wildfires sweeping across southern Europe but is usually on average the worst-hit country by wildfires.

Extreme weather patterns have been reported across the world this July including in China, the United States and southern Europe.

Across the Mediterranean more than 40 people have died because of huge wildfires.

Up to 34 people have died in Algeria and 1,500 were evacuated, as wildfires have been spreading across the country in recent days.

On the island of Evia, just north of Athens, two pilots died when their Canadair firefighter plane crashed into a ravine.

Italy has been hit with contrasting weather events – with storms in the north and heatwaves in the south.

A couple in their 70s were found dead in a fire-gutted house near Palermo, Sicily, an 88-year-old woman also died near the city and a fourth fire victim – a man aged 98 – was found in Calabria, just east of Sicily.

The storms in the north of Italy meanwhile claimed two lives on Tuesday – victims of falling trees.

Greece is also preparing for more evacuation flights from Rhodes – as wildfires now rage on the islands of Corfu and Evia.

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