New wildfires rage in France and Portugal as temperatures rise


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Portugal and France fought major forest fires on Sunday as temperatures rose sharply over the weekend.

In Portugal, a fire broke out in the Mafra district, north of Lisbon, while in France at least four firefighters were seriously injured and highways were closed.

About 400 firefighters were mobilized to battle the blaze about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Lisbon.

Residents tried to slow the progress of the flames by watering their gardens, as the flames also swept through nearby forests, according to TV footage.

A retirement home housing 30 people was evacuated as a precaution, Commander Paulo Santos of the Civil Protection Authority told Renascenca radio.

Elsewhere, other major outbreaks raged across northern and central Portugal, requiring more than 1,000 firefighters.

In the center of Ourem, a river beach was also evacuated as a precaution, while two people were inhaled by smoke, according to an emergency official quoted by the Lusa agency.

Parts of northern and central Portugal were put on alert this weekend over a ‘sharp temperature rise’ to over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) that is expected to last at least until Tuesday, according to the meteorological institute.

Experts blame climate change for soaring temperatures and warn the worst is yet to come.

Portugal, which remains traumatized by the deadly fires of 2017 which killed more than 100 people, was also affected in early July by a series of fires fanned by scorching temperatures.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 58,000 hectares (143,000 acres) have gone up in smoke, according to the latest, still provisional, data from the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF).

New fires, meanwhile, broke out in southeastern France on Sunday, with 350 hectares burned in Gard where a firefighter was seriously injured, and 35 hectares near Marseille affected, causing partial closures of highways.

“Four firefighters are injured,” Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced in a tweet about the fire that broke out around 3:00 p.m. in a pine forest in the town of Aubais, south of Nîmes.

One of them was “seriously injured” and had to be evacuated by helicopter to the Montpellier hospital center for burns to his hands and face.

The others were more slightly injured following a reversal of the flames by the wind which partly destroyed their vehicle, Eric Agrinier, who coordinated the operations, told AFP.



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