Portugal: Some 2,800 firefighters battled multiple wildfires in central and northern Portugal on Sunday, prompting the government to impose a “state of emergency”.
At least two houses have been burnt to ashes in many areas since Thursday. About 250 fires broke out on Friday and Saturday.
The fires hit Portugal amid a severe heat wave, with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) this week and are expected to increase further in the coming days.
Scientists say extreme weather events such as heat waves and droughts are linked to climate change. In the future they are expected to be more frequent, longer and serious.
Portugal’s government issued a national “state of emergency” on Sunday, putting rescue services on alert. It is above the warning level but below the disaster and emergency level.
The civil protection agency said about 1,500 firefighters were dousing the fire in the municipalities of Orem, Pombal and Carajeda de Encias.
“The fire spread 50 meters (165 feet) from the last house in the village,” pensioner Dancilia Marquez from Travesa de Almocatel, a village in central Portugal, told AFP.
“It’s all burned there,” said the 76-year-old, pointing to the hills between his home and the town of Frexianda.
More than 700 troops were sent to the area on Sunday after 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of vegetation was destroyed, the Civil Defense Agency said.
40 firefighters and civilians were injured in the fire. Many were treated on the spot for suffocation or exhaustion.
Prime Minister Antonio Costa has canceled a planned visit to monitor the fires in Mozambique.