Wildfire in Portugal’s southern Algarve tourist region on Monday has left at least 25 people injured overnight and yet over 1,150 firefighters struggled to put out a fire that has raged on for four days now.
The fire, which started on Friday, grew over the weekend during a heat wave sweeping large parts of Europe. Temperatures have started to fall from the peak of nearly 47 degrees Celsius, but it remains very hot in most parts of the country.
Emergency services added a further 350 firefighters to combat the flames overnight.
Twenty four people were treated for light burns and smoke inhalation while one person suffered more serious burns.
People were evacuated from the area but Joao Furtado, 60, was forced to hide in a water tank to escape the flames as his house burned down, according to his sister-in-law.
“He was panicking because he was trapped in the house.
“There was fire everywhere and he couldn’t get out,’’ said Maria Helena Furtado.
Civil protection authorities said smoke was making it difficult for firefighting planes to access the area but nine helicopters were flying.
There were 350 fire engines involved in the effort.
The fire is burning in the hills above the Algarve coast, an area popular with tourists for its hot springs, while the smoke could be seen from the coast.
Antonio Monteiro, Head of the Caldas de Monchique Spa Resort, one of the region’s best-known hotels, said: “We had to evacuate all hotel guests and we don’t have any information about when we will reopen.’’
Another hotel in the region, the Macdonald, was also shut.
Portugal’s biggest wildfire killed 114 people last year and it has since reinforced emergency services in the centre of the country where the worst fires usually break out.