LISBON – Almost 1,000 firefighters and 15 water-dropping aircraft battled a major wildfire in central Portugal on Monday, as strong winds pushed the flames through dense and hilly woodlands.
The blaze was in central Portugal around Proença-a-Nova, 200 kilometres (124 miles) north of Lisbon.
The fire’s perimeter stretched more than 55 kilometres (34 miles), local Civil Protection Agency commander Luis Belo Costa told a news conference, adding that an “extraordinary” amount of tinder-dry vegetation was fueling the flames.
About two dozen people were evacuated from hamlets as more than a dozen bulldozers cleared firebreaks in the area.
The wildfire began Sunday, and five firefighters suffered burns in its initial stages as their vehicle was caught in the flames.
Large wildfires occur each year in Portugal, where poor forest management has been blamed for repeated outbreaks. Two major blazes killed 106 people three years ago.