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Portugal's Madeira hit by forest fires

  • 7-20-2012

Firefighters have been battling forest fires across the Portuguese island of Madeira for more than two days.

Dozens of people have abandoned their homes as the wildfires, which began on Wednesday, came close to settlements.

The latest evacuations have taken took place on Porto Santo, a smaller island near the main island of Madeira.

High winds are said to be hampering efforts to contain blazes on both islands.

Television footage from Porto Santo showed houses catching fire and firefighters urging residents of the village of Camacha to leave their homes, the Reuters news agency reported.

On Wednesday, TV images showed flames several storeys high right on the edge of Madeira's main town, Funchal. The area is now out of danger, but fires have broken out elsewhere on Madeira.

Two houses were destroyed and at least 25 more damaged in the town, according to officials quoted by the Associated Press.

At least 75 firefighters have been despatched from the Portuguese mainland to help the overstretched fire services.

Heatwave

Fires have also broken out on the mainland itself, with the authorities struggling to contain a wildfire near the town of Tavira, in the Algarve, according to Portuguese media reports.

Portugal has been suffering from a heatwave, adding to a drought that has hit the country since the start of the year.

On the Spanish island of Tenerife, officials were on Thursday hoping that a drop in the wind would help them contain a forest fire that has been burning since Sunday.

Aircraft have been dropping water in an effort to contain the fire, which has led to the evacuation of Vilaflor, a town of about 1,800 people on the south side of the island.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2012 BBC


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