Hundreds of firefighters tackle wildfires in Portugal, village evacuated

Hundreds of firefighters were working Sunday to combat serious wildfires in central Portugal that ripped through the region, forcing evacuations while injuring 12 civilians and eight firefighters, according to authorities.

Members of the emergency services try to extinguish the fire, in Vila de Rei, Portugal on Saturday. Portuguese authorities say 1,000 firefighters are working to contain wildfires that have injured eight firefighters and one civilian. Portugal’s Civil Protection Agency says Sunday that firefighters are combating flames that broke out Saturday. (TVI via AP)

Members of the emergency services try to extinguish the fire, in Vila de Rei, Portugal on Saturday. Portuguese authorities say 1,000 firefighters are working to contain wildfires that have injured eight firefighters and one civilian. Portugal’s Civil Protection Agency says Sunday that firefighters are combating flames that broke out Saturday. (TVI via AP)

Firefighting aircraft, including planes and helicopters, has been used to help extinguish three fires that started on Saturday afternoon in the rural mountainous Castelo Branco area, located 124 miles northeast of the capital, Lisbon.

Army soldiers have also been deployed to help combat the blaze, along with hundreds of vehicles, including four bulldozers.

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Officials say two of the fires had been brought under control on Sunday and one village has reportedly been evacuated, according to the BBC.

Members of the emergency services try to extinguish wildfires, in Vila de Rei, Portugal. (TVI via AP)

Members of the emergency services try to extinguish wildfires, in Vila de Rei, Portugal. (TVI via AP)

The fire was made increasingly difficult to fight due to strong winds in the area, and temperatures in the Castelo Branco region, which is home to more than 200,000 people. Temperatures were expected to reach 88 degrees on Sunday.

"We are ready for a difficult day," Belo Costa, a civil protection official, told the outlet early on Sunday.

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Health authorities say most of the reported injuries were due to smoke inhalation, although one person was evacuated to a hospital because of fire-related burns and several major roads are reportedly closed.

Members of the emergency services try to extinguish the fire, in Vila de Rei, Portugal. (TVI via AP)

Members of the emergency services try to extinguish the fire, in Vila de Rei, Portugal. (TVI via AP)

This is the first major case of wildfires in Portugal this year. In 2017, 106 people were killed as the country saw some of the deadliest fires in history, which forced Portugal to have better methods of fighting them. Those precautions helped eliminate any wildfire deaths in 2018, although they continue to be a problem in the region due to its warm, forest terrain, dry summer months and strong winds from the Atlantic Ocean.

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Interior Minister Eduardo Cabrita told the BBC that authorities are investigating the cause of the blaze and six regions have been placed on maximum fire alert.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.