Villagers rescued from Portuguese wildfire

Villagers rescued from Portuguese wildfire

13 August 2010

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Portugal — Raging wildfires in Portugal have forced the authorities to evacuate a small mountain village in the north of the country.

About 100 people were moved to safety from their homes in Vilar de Soente. The village lies in the Peneda-Geres national park, close to Spain’s Galicia region.

The Interior Minister described the northern woodlands as being like a warzone as fires continued to burn in the early evening.

“The fire was getting massively close,” said one local resident. “Four planes were flying overhead, trying to put it out. But the fire was very lively and there was also lots of wind. They were helpless, the firemen tried but it was very difficult.”

Two planes from the French military joined the firefighting operation. No houses burned and the village was later declared to be out of danger. But for locals and tourists it was a scary experience.

“I came to stay for a week,” said one visitor, “but with so much smoke and such a bad smell around we should be leaving soon”.

Elsewhere fires forced the latest stage of the Tour of Portugal cycling event to be shortened.

Yet according to the government, the total surface area destroyed by fire this year is below the average over the past decade.

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