Hundreds of firefighters battle Portuguese forest blaze

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Portugal on Thurday dispatched hundreds of firefighters to tackle a forest blaze raging for the past 24 hours near its western coast, the civil protection agency said on its website.

Five helicopters, around 100 vehicles and 380 firefighters were sent to the Leira region to join the effort after the blaze broke out on Wednesday following a week of usually high temperatures.

The temperature in Lisbon reached 31 degrees (88 degrees Fahrenheit) Thursday, while some regions further inland saw temperatures as high as 34 degrees.

Portugal had been hit by a limited number of fires this year, with the amount of surface area burned from January to September down 71 percent compared to the annual average over the past ten years.

© 2011 AFP

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