Wildfire in northern Portugal threatening several villages, Spain to declare natural disaster

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By Euronews
The country is on alert over the risk of forest fires.
The country is on alert over the risk of forest fires.   -   Copyright  Credit: AFP

A wildfire is threatening several villages in northern Portugal as the country prepares for more heatwave-level temperatures.

The blaze in the village of Samardã, Vila Real, is approaching a restaurant, petrol station, and some houses, say civil protection authorities. 

It comes as the country was put on alert due to the "aggravation of the risk of rural fire" and the increase in temperatures.

Weeks of fires have destroyed more than 28,000 hectares in the Serra da Estrela mountains.

Meanwhile, another fire in Ourém, central Portugal, that had been under control, reignited on Sunday afternoon. Around 450 emergency workers are tackling the blaze.

The situation led to the suspension of a railway line, leaving around 1,600 passengers stranded at stations and having to wait for buses to leave the area.

Spain declares 'natural disaster'

On Monday, the Spanish government declared a state of natural disaster and promised to provide economic aid to the areas affected by this summer's wildfires.

Since the beginning of the year, Spain has experienced almost 400 forest fires that have burned 287,000 hectares, according to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS).

The area affected is more than three times as large as last year.

During a visit to Bejís, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez confirmed that the state of a natural disaster had been submitted for approval.

"Unfortunately, what science tells us is that these next summers are going to have even higher temperatures. We are therefore facing a climate emergency", he said.

Bejís was hit last week by a huge fire that was finally brought under control after ravaging more than 17,500 hectares of forest, leading to the evacuation of 2,200 people.