Forest fire destroys 1,500 hectares in Portugal

Forest fire destroys 1,500 hectares in Portugal

21 August 2007

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Hundreds of firefighters on Tuesday were battling a blaze that had destroyed 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of forest in central Portugal, authorities said.

The fire, among Portugal’s largest this summer, began Monday in the Santarem district. Authorities said overnight that it had been contained, but it later spread further.

More than 300 firefighters, with the help of 92 vehicles and four water-bombing aircraft, were trying to control several new fronts that had been fed by wind, said Antonio Jesus, fire commander for the Abrantes municipality.

“The flames are near populated areas … but there is no risk for the moment,” he told LUSA news agency.

Four other fires led to the deployment of some 200 firefighters and more than 50 vehicles in the Vila Real, Braganca and Guarda districts in the north.

Fires ravaged more than 5,000 hectares (12,400 acres) of forest and brush over the first seven months of the year in Portugal, forest authorities said.

From 2003 to 2006, more than 900,000 hectares of forest burned.

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