Portugal fire: Over 1000 firefighters tackle blaze, seven reportedly hurt

Members of the emergency services try to extinguish wildfires in Vila de Rei Portugal

Members of the emergency services try to extinguish wildfires in Vila de Rei Portugal

Portugal's Civil Protection Agency said that firefighters are combating flames that broke out Saturday across three fronts in the district of Castelo Branco, 124 miles north east of the capital Lisbon. The civilian has been airlifted to hospital in Lisbon.

Ricardo Aires, the mayor of Vila de Rei, one of the affected municipalities, told Portugal's public broadcaster RTP that there weren't enough firefighters or resources.

Members of the emergency services try to extinguish the fire, in Vila de Rei, Portugal on Saturday.

This is the first major case of wildfires in Portugal this year.

Authorities were looking into whether the fires may have been started deliberately, he said.

"The cause of the fires is being investigated. there's something unusual".

"We are ready for a hard day", Belo Costa, a Civil Protection official, told reporters. Army soldiers have been deployed.

The Portuguese president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, said in a statement that he is following the situation closely and sent solidarity to those affected.

Two other forest fires reported yesterday have since been brought under control.

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The fires started on Saturday afternoon and were fanned by strong winds that made them more hard to contain.

Authorities have evacuated villages and fluvial beaches as a precaution and 30 people have been injured.

Civil Protection commander Belo Costa said: "The wind is expected to cool overnight, according to weather forecasts and that increased humidity facilitates fire-fighting".

In 2017, 106 people were killed as the country saw some of the deadliest fires in history, which forced Portugal to have better methods of fighting them.

Interior Minister Eduardo Cabrita told the BBC that authorities are investigating the cause of the blaze and six regions have been placed on maximum fire alert.

The forests are largely eucalyptus, a highly flammable wood used in the paper industry.

Despite the combustion risks, the trees are planted because they are fast-growing and represent an important source of income for locals.

According to the EU's European Forest Fire Information System, more than 250,000 hectares (620,000 acres) of land was destroyed by fire across Europe between January and April this year, compared with 181,000 hectares recorded for the entire fire season in 2018.

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