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Portugal battling fresh wildfires

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153359_8240580_updates.jpgFirefighters watch the progression of a wildfire in a forest surrounding the village of Bracal, Abrantes, August 11, 2017. AFP/Patricia de Melo Moreira

ABRANTES: Portugal was battling a new rash of forest fires Friday ahead of a weekend of warm temperatures, as authorities warned of further blazes.

Some 1,800 firefighters backed by hundreds of vehicles were trying to douse around 10 fires across the country, authorities said.

"Despite the relentless fires, the situation is now more stable," said civil protection agency spokeswoman Patricia Gaspar in Lisbon.

Emergency workers had nearly gained control of wildfires across Portugal's drought-hit central region on Thursday, but stronger winds fanned flames in several areas.

In the village of Bracal, flames were being blown towards houses as residents grabbed what they could to aid firefighters, an AFP journalist said.

Some residents voiced anger at authorities after a season of repeated wildfires that have stretched resources.

"Firefighters can't perform miracles, they are exhausted," said Lucia Ricardo, who lives in Bracal, close to the central town of Abrantes.

Six villages had been evacuated around Abrantes on Thursday as fire-dousing planes flew sorties over the flames.

Another blaze near Grandola, in the southern Setubal district, needed 200 firefighters to bring under control after burning through around 3,000 hectares (30 square kilometres) of the forest.

The fires come after more than 60 people were killed in June, and more than 200 injured, in a giant blaze at Pedrogao Grande in central Portugal that raged for five days.

After an uncommonly dry winter and spring, almost 79 percent of the Portuguese mainland was enduring extreme or severe drought at the end of July, according to the national weather office.

Dry conditions have also fuelled fires on France's Mediterranean coast and on the island of Corsica in recent weeks. 


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