Three fires still raging in Castelo Branco and Guarda

Firefighters are still battling three major wildfires in northern Portugal this morning (August 25), two of them in Oleiros (Castelo Branco) and the other in Fernão Joanes (Guarda).

The biggest blaze is raging in Selada das Pedras (Oleiros) and has already destroyed eight houses, forced the evacuation of 16 people and injured six firefighters. It also led to the closure of several stretches of roads, including the EN112, EN238 and EN241.

Mayor Fernando Jorge told Lusa news agency that while the fire has since spread to the neighbouring boroughs of Fundão and Castelo Branco, destroying 10,000 hectares of forest in the process – the situation is starting to “calm down”.

At the time of writing, flames were being battled by 540 firemen supported by 178 vehicles.

Another major fire is also raging nearby in Poeiros, with a task force of nearly 400 firefighters trying to put it out.

Around the same number of firefighters are also battling flames in Fernão Joanes (Guarda), where traffic on the A23 motorway is cut off due to the blaze.

Special caution is needed to avoid further fires in Castelo Branco and Guarda as both districts face a “maximum risk of fires” today, according to the national civil protection authority.

The risk is also “very high” in Bragança, Vila Real, Viseu and Faro.

Meantime, Público newspaper reports this morning that only €10.2 million went into forest fire prevention out of the €56 million Portugal received via the PO SEUR programme to “reduce forest fires”.

According to the paper, “most of the money was used to buy new fire engines or to build, expand or modernise fire stations”.

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