Portugal battling fresh wildfires

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Villagers of Rio de Moinhos in Abrantes stand on the streets watching following a new rash of forest fires ahead of a weekend of warm temperatures, at Rio de Moinhos village in Abrantes on August 11, 2017. Some 1,800 firefighters backed by hundreds of vehicles were trying to douse around 10 fires across the country, authorities said.PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

Portugal was battling a new rash of forest fires ahead of a weekend of warm temperatures, as authorities warned of further blazes.

Some 1,800 firefighters backed by hundreds of vehicles were trying to douse around 10 fires across the country, authorities said Friday.

“Despite the relentless fires, the situation is now more stable,” said civil protection agency spokeswoman Patricia Gaspar in Lisbon.

Emergency workers had nearly gained control of wildfires across Portugal’s drought-hit central region on Thursday, but stronger winds fanned flames in several areas.

In the village of Bracal, flames were being blown towards houses as residents grabbed what they could to aid firefighters, an AFP journalist said.

Some residents voiced anger at authorities after a season of repeated wildfires which have stretched resources.

“Firefighters can’t perform miracles, they are exhausted,” said Lucia Ricardo, who lives in Bracal, close to the central town of Abrantes.

Six villages had been evacuated around Abrantes on Thursday as fire-dousing planes flew sorties over the flames.

Another blaze near Grandola, in the southern Setubal district, needed 200 firefighters to bring it under control after burning through around 3,000 hectares (30 square kilometres) of forest.

The fires come after more than 60 people were killed in June, and more than 200 injured, in a giant blaze at Pedrogao Grande in central Portugal that raged for five days.

After an uncommonly dry winter and spring, almost 79 percent of the Portuguese mainland was enduring extreme or severe drought at the end of July, according to the national weather office.

Dry conditions have also fuelled fires on France’s Mediterranean coast and on the island of Corsica in recent weeks.

Almost 700 people, mostly holidaymakers, were evacuated from two areas in Corsica Friday night because of fires fanned by strong winds.

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