Wednesday 15 August 2018

Algarve town under threat from major wildfire

People watch as the wildfire gets closer to Monchique, in southern Portugal’s Algarve region, a popular tourist destination. Photo: Javier Fergo/AP
People watch as the wildfire gets closer to Monchique, in southern Portugal’s Algarve region, a popular tourist destination. Photo: Javier Fergo/AP

Christian Vander

Emergency services in Portugal say they are still fighting a major wildfire on the south coast that threatened to engulf a hillside town overnight.

The Civil Protection Agency said 44 people required medical assistance as the blaze passed by the outskirts of Monchique, 250km south of Lisbon. A 72-year-old woman was seriously hurt. Overnight, dozens of homes and a hotel were evacuated in the town of about 2,000 people.

More than 1,000 firefighters with 327 vehicles and seven aircraft were battling the blaze.

The wind-driven fire has raced across tinder-dry pine and eucalyptus forest in a largely inaccessible hill range behind the famous beaches of Portugal's Algarve holiday region. Plumes of black smoke have blown across beaches popular with European tourists.

Firefighters expect cooler temperatures that have been forecast to help them bring the fire under control.

The Algarve is not expected to exceed 30C, while Lisbon is expecting 33C.

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

Irish Independent

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