Firefighters Face Growing Forest Blazes in Northern Portugal

Portuguese firefighters are battling blazes in the north of the country amid strong winds and high temperatures that have helped spread the forest fires, a civil protection official said.

“Low humidity levels, moderate to strong winds and high temperatures are all factors that have had a major impact on these forest fires,” Patricia Gaspar, operations assistant for the civil protection authority, said by phone today.

“These weather conditions are expected to remain in place until the end of the week,” she said.

Portugal, where authorities are normally on alert for fires from July to September, has asked the European Union for four planes to help fight the blazes after a Russian-made Kamov helicopter involved in the operations crashed, Gaspar said.

Both the pilot and co-pilot survived the crash with minor injuries, broadcaster SIC Noticias reported today.

The number of blazes listed as burning for more than two hours or requiring more firefighting equipment rose to 12 at 1:30 p.m. from six this morning and were located in the districts of Santarem, Coimbra, Aveiro, Porto, Castelo Branco, Guarda and Viseu, according to the civil protection authority’s website.

Firefighters are also trying to extinguish a “significant” blaze in the southern district of Beja, the civil protection authority said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Joao Lima in Lisbon at; Henrique Almeida in Lisbon at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerrold Colten at

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