Firefighters in drought-stricken Portugal continued today to tackle the country’s worst forest fires in decades.
In the village of Roxo, north of the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, residents tried stopping the flames from advancing, using anything they could grab, from branches to farming implements. Looking on helplessly, the fires continued to burn anything in its path.
Nearly 3,000 fire-fighters were battling 27 forest fires in central and northern Portugal on Monday, reinforced by aircraft from France and Spain and three helicopters from Germany. So far this year, fires have killed at least 13 people and destroyed an estimated 134,500 hectares of forest, far above a yearly average of 110,000 hectares, blazes made worse by the most severe drought in decades.
Relatively more forest has burned in Portugal than in equally parched neighbouring Spain and in France this summer and experts say this is because of bad land management that makes fire prevention more difficult. In Coimbra, Portugal’s third largest city, tourists travelling around the area took shelter in one of the city’s hotels away from the flames.