Portugal wildfires: Shock pictures as fires devastate central Portugal – 8 injured

More than 1,000 firefighters have been battling three blazes in Vila de Rei, Rola and Vale da Cova since Saturday afternoon. Strong winds are making it tougher for firefighters to put out the blazes, which started in Castelo Branco, a district 225 kilometres (139 miles) northeast of the capital Lisbon. Portugal’s Civil Protection said one person was taken by helicopter to a Lisbon hospital with first and second degree burns, while seven firefighters were also injured.

One wildfire made its way to Macao, a municipality in the nearby district of Santarem, where temperatures are expected to reach 34C on Sunday.

A Macao resident told Portuguese TV channel SIC that there are not enough firefighters on the ground.

They said: ”The wildfire came with force. We (residents) had to fight the flames.”

Ricardo Aires, the mayor of another affected municipality, Vila de Rei, also told Portugal’s public broadcaster RTP that firefighters and resources were scarce.

Portugal’s armed forces said 20 soldiers were on their way to support the operation, bringing four bulldozers.

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

Authorities added they hope to bring the wildfires under control by today.

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

“The main enemy was the wind.”

He added the Rola fire is more than 90 percent contained, while the Vila de Rei fire is still a concern because it has evolved in the form of a “cigar” and is said to be “very fast, long and narrow”.

Meanwhile, 50 percent of the Cova Valley fire is under control.

In June 2017, a devastating wildfire in the central town of Pedrogao Grande killed 64 people and injured more than 250.

The fire was the worst disaster in modern Portuguese history.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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