Portugal fights against forest fires

13:28, July 28, 2010      

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Firemen are fighting at least 18 forest fires which hit Portugal on Tuesday, mainly in the north and center of the country.

Rebordelo, Santa Maria da Freira in Aveiro, and Braga in northern Portugal are the most affected districts. A red alert symbolizing the maximum risk level has been decreed in Braga.

A total of 104 firemen were fighting the fire in Rebordelo, aided by 29 vehicles and one helicopter, the authorities said.

Meanwhile, in Sobradelo da Goma, northern Povoa de Lanhoso province, 78 firefighters were combating the fire, with the support of 19 vehicles, one helicopter and two planes.

There were also fires in Oporto, Viana do Castelo, Coimbra, Viseu and Leiria, all of them in the north of the country.

A fire which started 12 hours ago in Albergaria-a-Velha, Aveiro, has paralyzed local transportation. The A1 Highway connecting capital Lisbon with Oporto was closed due to low visibility.

In Oliveira de Azemeis, Aveiro, the fire threatened many houses and a cheese factory. According to Mayor Herminio Loureiro, the town was in "chaos" as the change of wind direction in the last hours intensified the fire.

Meanwhile, the Portuguese Army has dispatched about 150 soldiers to fire-affected towns.

Neighboring Spain has also offered aid to Portugal by sending two Canadair planes for the fire fighting.

The Portuguese government has said that it is sufficiently able to deal with this situation.

By Monday, 7,754 firemen had been fighting against 416 fires nationwide as temperatures climbed to 40 degrees Celsius, according to the National Authority of Civil Protection.



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