Thousandsof firefighters battled for the second day running yesterday to try toextinguish more than 20 huge blazes raging in Portugal. Emergency services saidaround 3,000 firefighters, many of whom worked through the night, were tackling22 blazes which have hit the north and centre of the country. Soldiers also weredrafted in to help.
Avillager uses a bucket to fight a fire raging towards his home on the outskirtsof Leiria in central Portugal. Picture: EPAThe huge operation has been hampered by theresulting clouds of thick smoke which grounded several of the aircraft whichhave been dropping water on the fires. The blazes, caused by temperatures inexcess of 40C and fanned by strong African winds as the country suffers itsworst drought since 1945, have caused the closure of the main A1 motorwayconnecting the capital Lisbon with Portugal’s second-largest city, Porto. Inplaces, flames could be seen engulfing the forests on either side of the highwayas cars sped along. Southern Europe is in the grip of a major drought and amajor wildfire also broke out near homes in Pradel, south-eastern France,yesterday.