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1,300 firefighters battle Portugal blazes

Part of the massive wildfire currently ravaging central Portugal.
Part of the massive wildfire currently ravaging central Portugal. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

Planes and helicopters have joined 1,300 firefighters to battle huge wildfires in central Portugal, around 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, in one of the biggest mobilisations ever seen in the area. 


By Sunday lunchtime 1,300 firefighters and 400 vehicles had been deployed to fight the blazes in the heavily forested Castelo Branco region.

Twenty people have been injured in the blaze, including eight firefighters and 12 civilians, according to interior ministry figures.

One badly burned civilian was evacuated by helicopter to Lisbon.

The biggest effort – involving 800 firefighters, 245 vehicles and 13 planes and helicopters – battled to douse flames in the municipality of Vila de Rei, which had spread nearly 25 kilometres.

"Only the fire at Vila de Rei remains active," Interior Minister Eduardo Cabrita told a news conference.

Authorities are investigating whether the fires may have been started deliberately, Cabrita said.

In a message, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa expressed his "solidarity with the hundreds fighting the scourge of the fires".

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