Wildfires send residents fleeing in Portugal

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This was the scene as wildfires raged in drought-hit Portugal as a scorching heatwave dubbed ‘Lucifer’ continues to hit parts of southern Europe.

Some 1,600 firefighters backed by 500 vehicles were battling 11 blazes that were burning out of control in the centre and north of the country, the civil protection agency said.

Another roughly 800 firefighters were at the scene of 38 other blazes which had been tamed or were being dampened down, it added.

The fires come after more than 60 people were killed in June, and more than 200 injured, in a giant blaze at Pedrogao Grande in central Portugal that raged for five days.

Southern Europe has been hit with soaring temperatures in recent weeks and Portuguese officials have warned of 39C heat and strong winds this weekend.

But the extreme weather has also resulted in huge thunderstorms in other parts of the continent while freak wind gusts and lashing rain has caused chaos in the Italian town of Jesolo, in the country’s Veneto region.

Wildfires have been raging in drought-hit Portugal as a scorching heatwave dubbed 'Lucifer' continues to hit parts of southern Europe. This was the scene close to the villa of Pucarica in Abrantes, Portugal

Some 1,600 firefighters backed by 500 vehicles were battling 11 blazes that were burning out of control in the centre and north of the country, the civil protection agency said. Pictures show how some homes were destroyed

A woman clasps her hands together as residents flee in terror from wildfires hitting Aldeia do Mato in Abrantes, Portugal

Firefighters had brought the biggest blaze which broke out in a forest near the central town of Abrantes largely under control, Abrantes mayor Maria do Ceu Albuquerque told reporters at the scene

The extreme weather conditions have also led to huge thunderstorms. This was the scene along the coast in the Italian town of Jesolo as a huge weather system moved overhead

Freak gusts of wind caused pedal boats to pile up on each other after a huge weather system hit the north east Italian coast

Firefighters had brought the biggest blaze which broke out in a forest near the central town of Abrantes largely under control, Abrantes mayor Maria do Ceu Albuquerque told reporters at the scene.

‘There are still two active fronts which are a cause for concern. But there is no wind and the conditions are reunited to have a calmer night and tomorrow we can put out this fire,’ she said.

Up to 800 firefighters backed by 250 vehicles were battling the blaze, which broke out on Wednesday as the return of scorching temperatures put an end to a brief respite from a spate of blazes.

Up to 800 firefighters backed by 250 vehicles were battling the blaze, which broke out on Wednesday as the return of scorching temperatures put an end to a brief respite from a spate of blazes. This house was completely destroyed when it was ravaged by fire

Emergency: Fire fighters battle to contain a fire after it broke out in a forest on the hills near Abrantes, central Portugal

Air support: Aircraft were brought in in an attempt to extinguish the flames ripping through undergrowth in Abrantes

Helping hand: An elderly resident is helped away from her home as fire ripped through a village in Abrantes, Portugal

The fire reached an industrial park on the outskirts of Abrantes and forced the evacuation of four nearby villages as a precaution. 

Roughly 50 residents of the villages will spend the night at a military building, Albuquerque said.

‘It has burned all day. It started up high and the flames went all around,’ Matilde Simao, a resident of evacuated village Pucarica, told AFP.

Firefighters said low air humidity levels and strong winds, which frequently changed direction, had complicated their initial efforts against the blaze.

‘There are people setting fires, bad people. It is the only explanation that I can see, there is no other,’ said Maria Conceicao, another resident of Pucarica.

Chaos: The extreme weather has also resulted in huge thunderstorms in other parts of the continent while freak wind gusts and lashing rain has caused damage in the Italian town of Jesolo, in the country's Veneto region

A tree came crashing down over a road after fierce winds lashed the Italian town of Jesolo. The rain and wind is the latest example of recent extreme weather on the continent

Damage: Cars were crushed and sunloungers sent flying up a beach after strong winds lashed the coastal Italian town of Jesolo

Damage: Cars were crushed and sunloungers sent flying up a beach after strong winds lashed the coastal Italian town of Jesolo

A VW was crushed under a tree and other vehicles were thrown on to their side as a huge storm hit Jesolo in Italy

Local residents used garden hoses and plastic buckets full of water to help firefighters put out the flames.

Weather conditions will be ‘especially favourable for wildfires’ until Sunday, with strong winds and temperatures of up to 39 degrees Celsius (102 Fahrenheit) forecast, civil protection agency spokeswoman Patricia Gaspar told a news conference.

Morocco sent a water-dropping plane and neighbouring Spain sent two to help firefighters battle the flames, she added.

Another fire near the northern village of Mealhada forced the closure of a 18-mile stretch of the A1 highway linking Lisbon and Porto, Portugal’s two largest cities, for several hours.

Smoke fills the air over the A23 highway near Abrantes in Portugal as wildfires continued to rage in parts of the country

Fire crews worked through the night as they attempted to extinguish flames ripping through Portugal amid high temperatures

Temperatures are expected to hit 39C this weekend, coupled with strong winds, authorities have warned

A woman removes her mouth guard as she talks to other residents in Aldeia do Mato as wild fires tore through the area overnight

A fire truck is seen close to another inferno as it rips through undergrowth close to Aldeia do Mato in Portugal

After an uncommonly dry winter and spring, almost 79 percent of the Portuguese mainland was enduring extreme or severe drought at the end of July, according to the national weather office

The railways linking Lisbon to the southern province of the Algarve, a popular European beach destination, was also closed for several hours because of a blaze near the city of Grandola.

Police said they had arrested a 61-year-old man who is suspected of having started a fire near the central village of Lordelo.

The president of the Portuguese Firefighters’ League, Jaime Marta Soares, told private television SIC he believed more than 80 percent of wildfires in Portugal had a ‘criminal origin’.

After an uncommonly dry winter and spring, almost 79 percent of the Portuguese mainland was enduring extreme or severe drought at the end of July, according to the national weather office.

Dry conditions were also fuelling a wildfire on France’s Mediterranean coast.

About 200 firefighters backed by six water-dropping aircraft battled a blaze in Port-de-Bouc west of Marseille which was threatening built up areas, local firefighters said. 

Yesterday, Spain, Germany and Poland suffered thunderstorms, another extreme following temperatures of around 40 degrees at the weekend.

The weather strikes back: Lightning  illuminates the sky over Annaberg-Buchholzer, southeastern Germany on Thursday

Flooding comes: Two young women manouver themselves down a flooded street after a heavy storm hit Lodz, central Poland on Thursday

Broken: The remains of a first aid post on Deveses beach after heavy rains in Denia, Spain

Rain in Spain: A man walks under an umbrella during a windy and rainy morning in the village of San Lluis, Menorca island, eastern Spain

The Spanish island of Ibiza recorded an estimated 3,000 lightning bolts in just three hours late on Wednesday afternoon, with 20mm of rain within an hour.

The airport on the Spanish island saw parts of the ceiling caving in around travellers waiting for delayed flights amid the storm late Wednesday night.

The Spanish eastern coast and the Balearic islands are on yellow alert for heavy rains and strong winds yesterday.

Severe storms passed over Poland causing damage to buildings, trees and electricity and railway infrastructure. 

Run for it: Airport workers dashes across the runway at Ibiza airport during the heavy storm

Emergency services in Lodz, Poland, had to be called to help clear up fallen trees as streets in residential areas were flooded on Thursday.  

Elsewhere in Europe, emergency services are still struggling with widespread forest fires. 

In southern France, a fire ravaged 1,250 acres of pine forest, 25 miles southwest of Montpellier, the fire service said.

Some 200 firefighters were still battling the blaze on Thursday afternoon, with strong winds expected during the day.

‘Today’s weather conditions call for the greatest prudence,’ the fire service said.

At the height of the blaze 800 firefighters were involved. 

Unlucky! Storms have been raging in Ibiza, sending holiday makers running for shelter

Forget the beach: Several deck chairs are piled up in Punta Prima beach as wind and rain replaced shunshine on Menorca, Spain

Severe storms passed over Poland, such as here in Lodz, causing damage to buildings, trees and electricity and railway infrastructure

Danger: A fallen tree sits on a damaged car after a heavy storm hit Lodz on Thursday

The Lucifer heatwave has caused the widespread downpours because it has been superheating air around the Mediterranean for the last few weeks.

The hot air has risen and is now interacting with cold air at the top of a high-pressure air system and water vapor then condenses forming huge cumulonimbus – storm – clouds. 

High pressure systems leads to settled weather, meaning the same weather several days in a row.

In addition, the North Atlantic jet stream – the air currents several thousand feet above ground which controls the hot and cold air over Europe  – is currently positioned more south than normal, which is what has caused the high pressure to remain over southern Europe, explains Emma Sharples, Met Office meteorologist.  

In Ibiza, this saw heavy rain and wind overnight, with tourists hitting the streets of San Antonio to party, instead fleeing to shelter in the downpour. 

Moving out: Cars drive down a flooded street in Lodz after the storm subsided

A man walks past a field with sunflowers while cowering under an umbrella in the rain  in Frankfurt, Germany

Burned: This is what remains in the aftermath of a wildfire in Saint-Pons-de-Mauchiens, near Montpellier, France

Destroyed: The fire burned through some 1,250 acres of pine forest, as it ravaged the area 25 miles southwest of Montpellier

Abandoned: Some 400 residents and tourists had to be evacuated in Saint-Pons-de-Mauchiens and nearby areas

Some 200 firefighters were still battling the blaze southwest of Montpellier on Thursday afternoon

More devestation: A local resident looks on a forest fire at Carreira do Mato, Abrantes, central Portugal

More than 553 firemen, 172 land vehicles and 7 helicopters and airplanes are battling the fire in Abrantes

Battle on all fronts: The wildfires in Portugal have been stoked by strong winds and temperature on the rise again 

 

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