Hundreds of firefighters battle blaze near Lisbon

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MAFRA, Portugal, July 31 (Reuters) – Hundreds of firefighters battled a raging blaze in a Portuguese municipality near the capital Lisbon on Sunday, as high temperatures and high winds made it harder to extinguish the flames.

Supported by water bombers and 123 vehicles, more than 400 firefighters were mobilized after a fire broke out on Sunday in a mountainous area of ​​the town of Mafra around 3:00 p.m. local time (2:00 p.m. GMT).

A huge cloud of black smoke rose over the town of Venda do Pinheiro, in Mafra, as the fire forced authorities to block several roads and evacuate a retirement home. Many residents have left their homes out of fear.

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A Reuters witness said smoke rising from the blaze could be seen from downtown Lisbon, about 33 km (21 miles) to the south.

Other fires were raging elsewhere in Portugal, notably in the central municipality of Ourem, where the flames destroyed thousands of hectares two weeks ago. More than 1,000 firefighters were mobilized across the country.

Like other European countries, Portugal has been experiencing a scorching heat wave in recent weeks, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104°F) in various parts of the country. Although the heat has subsided, temperatures are rising again.

Weather agency IPMA said three districts in northern Portugal would be on “red alert” for extreme heat on Monday.

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Reporting by Catarina Demony, Miguel Pereira and Pedro Nunes in Mafra, Portugal; edited by Philippa Fletcher

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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