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Portugal gains upper hand over wildfire that killed 64

Portugal gains upper hand over wildfire that killed 64

The death toll in the Portugal forest fire has now risen to 61. A further two people were being treated for major injuries.

Authorities say other victims could be found as searches continue.

Earlier, firefighters said they were close to bringing the blaze under control.

More than 1,100 firefighters and nine water-dropping aircraft are still tackling the country's worst forest fire, which is thought to have started after lightning struck a tree in the central municipality of Pedrógão Grande on Saturday. Between 1993 and 2013, Portugal recorded the highest annual number of forest fires in southern Europe, according to a report previous year by the European Environment Agency. British chef Joe Lancaster was catering for guests at a yoga retreat in central Portugal with his girlfriend when a wildfire broke out nearby. Like more than half of the dead in Saturday's blaze, Daniel Starling had jumped in his auto and raced away as the flames bore down.

"I knew several of the victims".

"I went to see it and in five minutes the fire was about 800 metres (yards) from my house", the 66-year-old said. They stopped when they came to a policeman at a junction. The dead fireman is said to have been trying to help them out of their cars but was badly burned. The house he has been building since 2009 is now a ruin.

About 35 forest fires continued to burn across the country on Monday, with more than 2,000 firefighters and 660 vehicles mobilised.

Drone video showed Sunday's aftermath of Portugal's forest fire that killed at least 61 people, many of them trapped in their cars as they tried to flee.

There is a broad consensus that more work is needed on prevention, starting with forest cleaning and the creation of fire breaks.




A BRITISH man has told how he stopped to save a family of four as he drove through flames to escape wildfires in Portugal.

But in a weird sequence of events, officials with the Portuguese government and the Civil Protection Agency said they could not confirm a crash had taken place.

News agency Lusa cited a source from the civil protection agency saying a helicopter was on its way to where the plane had gone down.

Temperatures had reached 40C in the area, about 95 miles north-east of the capital Lisbon, in recent days.

The Canadair plane came down in Louriceira in Pedrogao Grande, where the fire is at its most fierce.

Emergency services have also been criticized for not closing the road where most of the deaths occurred.

But 30 water-dropping aircraft were engaged in battling the blazes, some operating under bilateral agreements with the Portuguese government and others as part of a European Union co-operation agreement.

Gomes told reporters Tuesday evening that the main blaze in Pedrogao Grande, which killed 64 people on Saturday, is smaller and is being contained.

"The existence of huge patches of eucalyptus - sometimes thousands of hectares - makes large fires inevitable because eucalyptus is very flammable and causes fires of great intensity", it said.


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