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Afp

Portugal wildfires '90 percent' under control

By AFP
media The centre of Portugal is hilly and covered in dense forest and is regularly ravaged by fires AFP

Huge wildfires that have ravaged a mountainous region of central Portugal and left dozens injured have been "90 percent" controlled, firefighters said Monday, but warned that strong winds could cause the flames to spread.

Over 1,700 firefighters were deployed to fight the blazes in the heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of Lisbon.

The fires have been "90 percent controlled", Pedro Nunes, the spokesman for Portugal's civil protection force, told a news conference in the central town of Serta.

"Despite a significant effort carried out overnight... 10 percent of the perimeter of the fire is still active... mainly in hard to reach areas," he added.

Around 30 people have been injured in the blaze which broke out on Saturday amid scorching temperatures, including eight firefighters, according to the interior ministry.

One badly burned civilian was evacuated by helicopter to Lisbon.

Nunes said winds were expected to pick up in the afternoon, with gusts of up to 35 kilometres per hour.

"We are going to have a complicated day. The wind has been the great motor of this fire," he added.

The centre of Portugal is hilly and covered in dense forest and is regularly ravaged by fires, including the deadliest in the country's history when 114 people died in two separate blazes in June and October 2017.

Much of the population in the area is elderly, as young people move to the cities.

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

 
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