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Firefighters tame major Portugal wildfire

Published on 31/08/2013

Firefighters in Portugal have tamed a major blaze but were on alert Saturday for further outbreaks of wildfires which have already claimed five lives and ravaged thousands of hectares of forest.

“The situation is much calmer but we remain on the alert,” Carlos Guerra, spokesman of the civil protection authority, told AFP.

Hundreds of Portuguese fighters backed by Spanish and French aircraft have been battling wildfires in the north and centre of the country for days.

On Saturday, the European Commission said Croatia will send two aircraft to join the firefighting efforts.

A major blaze in the central Caramulo mountain range was brought under control on Friday night after raging for three days and claiming three firefighters’ lives.

The mountain range, nicknamed “Portugal’s lungs”, was renowned for its sanatoriums for people suffering from respiratory illnesses.

“Caramulo was the only place in the country where we could breathe pure air. But now, everything is contaminated,” Jose Castro, a resident in the region, told daily Publico.

A 20-year-old man was detained Friday over suspicions of having sparked the Caramulo fire.

Portugal is highly prone to forest fires in summer because of soaring temperatures, strong winds and dry vegetation.