Forest fires in Portugal, which had appeared to be coming under some sort of control, resumed yesterday as authorities mobilised some 700 firefighters in the north and central parts of the country.
The firefighters were supported by five French and Croatian aircraft.
A brush fire close to Gondomar, in the district of Poto, was fought by 254 firefighters, planes and two helicopters from the Portuguese army.
Residents from 10 houses were evacuated in the afternoon as the flames also threatened a petrol station, said Fernando Paulo, a councillor in Gondomar. Many people were in a state of shock and received psychological help, he said.
In the south, a forest fire near Sever do Vouga led to the mobilisation of 100 Portuguese firefighters who were helped by Croatian planes, which had arrived on Saturday.
“The wind blows with such an intensity that it constitutes the main obstacle to firefighters,” said Jose Bismarck, commander of the firefighters in Aveiro.
Portugal had enjoyed a lull in its battle against forest fires since Friday after successfully mastering blazes in the mountainous region of Caramulo where three were killed and five missing.
“We thought we were in a war zone,” Marta Rosa, a young resident of the village of Caramulo, told AFP.
“The firefighters who came to save the house of my parents told me it was like a firestorm.”
The period of respite came after “less intense winds on Saturday night and today”, Carlos Guerra, a spokesman for the national authority of civil protection, said yesterday evening.
Guerra noted that some 313 new fires had been recorded by the authorities since Saturday.
A desperate Portugal had requested reinforcements from its European neighbours. Spain, France and Croatia had responded, sending aircraft to help fight the blazes.
Portuguese firefighters remain on alert as the weather forecast predicts more high temperatures and strong winds until tomorrow.
A firefighter combats a forest fire in the Belas area, north of Lisbon, on Saturday.