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FIRE STORM
Portugal battling fresh wildfires
by Staff Writers
Abrantes, Portugal (AFP) Aug 11, 2017


Hundreds flee as fire rages in southern France
Paris (AFP) Aug 10, 2017 - A forest fire raged in parched southern France on Thursday, forcing 400 campers and residents to flee, firefighters said.

The blaze has been contained after ravaging 500 hectares (1,250 acres) of pine forest and bush 40 kilometres (25 miles) southwest of Montpellier, the fire service said.

Some 200 firefighters were still battling the blaze, with strong winds expected during the day.

"Today's weather conditions call for the greatest prudence," the fire service said.

At the height of the blaze 800 firefighters were involved.

Last month saw blazes across southern France, which is experiencing a particularly hot and dry summer.

Police nab fireman for arson as Italy blazes rage
Rome (AFP) Aug 11, 2017 - A volunteer fireman has been caught setting fires in northern Italy as the drought-ravaged country struggled Friday to contain wildfire blazes.

Italy's fire brigade was tackling flames nationwide, where a relentless heat wave has turned fields and woods into tinder. With the wind picking up, nine regions launched urgent appeals for water planes.

The president of the Calabria region, Mario Oliverio, called on the government to send in the army as exhausted firefighters and civil protection volunteers raced to stop the flames reaching villages.

In the Lombardy region, the 28-year-old arsonist was filmed on a security camera setting hedges and rubbish bins alight before returning to base, sounding the alarm and rushing along with the colleagues to put the fire out.

Police said he had set at least seven fires since 2014.

On Monday, 15 firefighters were arrested in Sicily on suspicion of having started fires in order to receive bonus payments.

"You cannot link the concept of earning a salary and firefighting in a period of economic crisis such as this," said Antonio Brizzi, secretary general of the Conapo fire fighters' union.

"Cuts mean we have 3,500 fewer firemen than necessary, which has led in some cases to a hurried use of volunteers," adding that the latter needed to be chosen on more stringent psychological tests.

While much of the country sweltered, the heat in the Veneto region resulted in violent storms overnight Thursday to Friday which lashed the area, landing three people in hospital and lightly injuring 45 others.

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 which 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 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.

FIRE STORM
Tunisia loses swathes of forest in fires
Tunis (AFP) Aug 5, 2017
Around 2,000 hectares of forest in Tunisia have gone up in flames over the past week, with some of the fires probably started deliberately, the authorities said on Saturday. Many of the blazes have been put down to a heatwave gripping the North African country, but arson has also been blamed in some cases. "Since July 29 we have experienced a wave of forest fires - 94 outbreaks across e ... read more

Related Links
Forest and Wild Fires - News, Science and Technology


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