16 die in Portugal forest fires

16 die in Portugal forest fires

18 July 2012

published by www.dailymail.co.uk

Portugal – Fire crews are still struggling to bring wildfires in the southern Algarve tourist region under control today, officials have said.

The death toll from two weeks of record blazes rose to 16 when a firefighter, who had been burned in a forest fire in central Portugal last week, died of his injuries late Wednesday night.

Almost 500 firefighters, working with 139 fire trucks and helped by 240 soldiers, contained most of the fires in the Algarve region that had raced for five days through a hilly inland area of dense forest.

Strong winds and a heat wave drove the fires.

The main fire moved to within about five miles of Lagos, a major holiday town on the southern coast, before being brought under control, said Antonio Gualdino, spokesman for the National Fire Coordination Center.

The wildfires have charred a record 215,000 hectares (531,000 acres) so far this year, an area almost the size of Luxembourg, according to an estimate by the Forest Service.

The government has announced a national disaster in some areas and has requested financial aid from the European Union.

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