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Portugal battles major wildfire as Europe heat wave endures

A top temperature of 42 degrees Celsius (107 degrees Fahrenheit) was forecast in the southwest region of Extremadura on Sunday.

Published: 06th August 2018 01:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th August 2018 04:32 PM   |  A+A-

A firefighter works on an active fire on a hillside outside the village of Monchique, in southern Portugal's Algarve region. (Photo | AP)

By AFP

LISBON: Emergency services in Portugal continued their fight Monday against a major, four-day wildfire on the south coast that threatened to engulf a hillside town overnight.

The Civil Protection Agency said 44 people required medical assistance as the blaze passed by the outskirts of Monchique, 250 kilometres (155 miles) south of Lisbon, in the dark. A 72-year-old woman was seriously hurt.

Authorities said that more than 1,100 firefighters with 327 vehicles and eight aircraft were battling the blaze that erupted amid a heatwave caused by a mass of hot air from North Africa.

ALSO READ | Europe Heatwave: Temperatures hit 46 degree Celsius

The rest of Europe has also felt the torrid recent weather.

In France, where four nuclear reactors have been temporarily closed due to the heat, three cities banned the most polluting cars from the roads because of heat-linked ozone pollution.

The heat wave in France is expected to last until Thursday, with temperatures peaking Tuesday.

Mr Harris, originally from Devon, UK, returns to his burned permanent home near the village of Monchique, in southern Portugal's Algarve region. (Photo | AP)

After four days of intense heat that broke some records in Portugal, with temperatures surpassing 45 C (113 F), Portuguese authorities forecast a cooler period beginning Monday. The Algarve wasn't expected to exceed 30 C (86 F), while Lisbon was expecting 33 C (91 F).

Parts of the south and northeast of the country remained at "extreme risk" of wildfires, however, according to the national weather agency's forecast.

ALSO READ | Europe Heatwave: Two dead in Spain as temperature soars to 45 degree Celsius

The falling temperatures helped create "much more favorable" conditions for firefighters tackling the Monchique blaze, local fire chief Abel Gomes told a news conference.

Overnight, dozens of homes and a hotel were evacuated around the town of about 2,000 people which is known for its spa.

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The wind-driven fire has been racing across tinder-dry pine and eucalyptus forest in a largely inaccessible hill range behind the famous beaches of Portugal's Algarve vacation region.

Plumes of black smoke have blown across beaches popular with European tourists.

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