Firefighters battle blazes in southern France and Portugal


As of Wednesday, officials said three firefighters had been injured battling the blaze - three of them seriously.

Emergency services have been stretched by the fires raging amid fierce summer heat, with firefighters from the capital Lisbon having earlier been drafted in to fight deadly fires on the island of Madeira, some 800 kilometers (about 500 miles) southwest of the Portuguese mainland.

Today, authorities said that the wildfires are for the moment under control, but if the wind picks up it the fire may begin to spread again.

In southern France, more than 1,000 people were evacuated in several towns, notably Vitrolles, about 25 kilometres (15 miles) north of Marseille where some homes were burned down, and in nearby Pennes-Mirabeau.

A Vitrolles resident, Caroline Vidal told iTele TV, "It was a scene really like the end of the world", referring to what she was faced with while fleeing her home to her grandmother's house, seeing people wandering around frantically on the highway.

The origins of the French fires, which started in Rognac, north of Vitrolles, were unknown.

More than 1,000 people have been evacuated from the tourist island of Madeira.

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"At this time only one active fire remains, in the town of Calheta" in the west of the island, while blazes have been contained in Funchal and the neighbouring town of Camara de Lobos, a civil protection official said Thursday.

Fires were burning in Portugal and Spain.

Commercial flights leaving Marseille Airport have also been delayed or cancelled.

The inferno engulfed homes and at least one school in the region.

In Portugal, firefighters also battled multiple fires for a sixth straight day. On Thursday, 12 fires were reported as burning out of control.

In the Pyrenees region near the Spanish border, another fire erupted on Thursday, devastating 850 hectares and forcing the evacuation of 60 people from their homes as the flames edged dangerously close to a village, police said. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.

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