Tags: EU | Europe | Wildfires

Wind-fanned Wildfires Rage on Untamed in Portugal, Corsica

Image: Wind-fanned Wildfires Rage on Untamed in Portugal, Corsica

Sunday, 13 Aug 2017 03:53 PM

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Hot and dry weather stoked the wildfires burning across southern Europe on Sunday as firefighters in Portugal and the French island of Corsica struggled to corral the flames.

Over 4,000 firefighters were battling more than 250 wildfires in Portugal, which requested assistance from other European Union nations.

On Corsica, fires that have raged since Thursday forced the evacuation of 1,000 people, authorities said.

Portugal Civil Protection Agency spokeswoman Patricia Gaspar said the country set an annual single-day record for new fires on Saturday, when 268 separate fires started. That surpassed the previous year-to-date high mark of 220 fires reached Friday.

While the weather isn't helping, nature was responsible for igniting a minority of the blazes, Gaspar said.

"We know that more than 90 percent of the fires have a human cause, whether intentional of from negligence. Both are crimes," she said.

Difficulties in controlling the flames and forecasts calling for more hot and dry days ahead prompted Portugal's government to ask Europe for help, Minister of Internal Administration Constanca Urbano de Sousa said late Saturday.

Neighboring Spain has responded by promising to send both personnel and aircraft, Gaspar said.

Portugal has been especially hard hit by wildfires, including one that killed 64 people in June, during a summer marked by high temperatures and a lack of rain.

Wildfires in Portugal this year have accounted for more than one-third of the burned forest in the entire 28-country European Union.

The EU's Emergency Management Service said the amount of forestland blackened in Portugal as of Aug. 5 was about five times larger than the average recorded in the country between 2008 and 2016.

In southern France, fierce flames have ravaged some 2,100 hectares (5,190 acres) of land since Thursday — with 2,000 hectares (4,940 acres) burned in Corsica alone.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said there have been no casualties from the fires thanks to the efforts by 1,200 firefighters and the air teams that carried out 300 water drops in 24 hours.

While the mainland fires were tamed over the weekend, the Corsica blazes were ongoing and still required "major means," Collomb said.

Firefighters continued to fight wildfires in the Corsican towns of Manso and the hilly Pietracorbara.

Northern Corsica Prefect Gerard Gavory said over 1,000 thousand residents and tourists have been evacuated.

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Hot and dry weather stoked the wildfires burning across southern Europe on Sunday as firefighters in Portugal and the French island of Corsica struggled to corral the flames.Over 4,000 firefighters were battling more than 250 wildfires in Portugal, which requested...
EU,Europe,Wildfires
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2017-53-13
Sunday, 13 Aug 2017 03:53 PM
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