Huge wildfires rage in Portugal and French island Corsica, no casualties

Almost 1,000 people had to leave during the night, with 2,000 hectares of scrubland destroyed due to wildfires in Portugal and on the French island of Corsica on Saturday.

Published: 12th August 2017 06:35 PM  |   Last Updated: 12th August 2017 06:35 PM   |  A+A-

Some 1,800 firefighters were trying to douse around 10 fires across the country, authorities said.

Firefighters control a wild fire in the village of Pucarica, near Abrantes, central Portugal (AP)


PIETRACORBARA (FRANCE): Scorching temperatures and high winds were culminating in huge wildfires in Portugal and on the French island of Corsica on Saturday, with hundreds of holidaymakers forced to flee and further blazes predicted.

Almost 1,000 people had to leave Corsica during the night, with 2,000 hectares of scrubland destroyed, though no human casualties were reported. Dry conditions have fuelled fires in recent weeks.

A man suspected of starting five fires in Bastia, a town with a population of 40,000 in the island's northeast, was arrested late Friday, an official said.

At Cap Corse, the most northerly point where the fire had spread overnight into Friday, the situation has been stabilised but the blaze remains rampant in the Sisco commune.

"It's hell," Christian Burchi, a 50-year-old Sisco resident said late Friday. "We tried to extinguish the flames with two buckets of water and a ridiculous hose. Everywhere is burning."

In Portugal, forest fires continued to rage as high temperatures and swirling winds posed difficulties for firefighters across the country with further blazes predicted.

Two of the worst fires were near the towns of Abrantes and Alvaiazere, where the firefighting effort involved 800 personnel, four water-bombing planes, two helicopters and around 250 vehicles.

Some 1,800 firefighters were trying to douse around 10 fires across the country, authorities said.

Civil protection agency spokeswoman Patricia Gaspar said a record 220 fires had started on Friday alone.

"Despite the relentless fires, the situation is now more stable," said Gaspar in Lisbon.

Emergency workers had nearly gained control of wildfires across Portugal's drought-hit central region on Thursday, but stronger winds fanned flames in several areas.

In the village of Bracal, flames were being blown towards houses as residents grabbed what they could to aid firefighters, an AFP journalist said.

Some residents voiced anger at authorities after a season of repeated wildfires which have stretched resources.

"Firefighters can't perform miracles, they are exhausted," said Lucia Ricardo, who lives in Bracal, close to Abrantes. 

Six villages had been evacuated around Abrantes on Thursday as fire-dousing planes flew sorties over the flames.

Another blaze near Grandola, in the southern Setubal district, needed 200 firefighters to bring it under control after burning through around 3,000 hectares (30 square kilometres) of forest.

The fires come after more than 60 people were killed in June, and more than 200 injured, in a giant blaze at Pedrogao Grande in central Portugal that raged for five days. 

After an uncommonly dry winter and spring, almost 79 percent of the Portuguese mainland was enduring extreme or severe drought at the end of July, according to the national weather office.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.