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Posted by nelson on August 11, 2017

Over 5300 firefighters are battling major blazes that have continued unabated through the night.

The worst hotspots at 9am this morning continued to be Abrantes (centre) and Tábua (north), but yesterday afternoon a blaze Grândola joined the list, seeing the country effectively “divided by fire”.

Grândola’s fire has cut rail services to the south of the country while roads too are still blocked off in various areas.

Elsewhere, authorities shut motorways A1, A14 and A23 as fires and smoke bore down on drivers.

At 9am today, news was that the Abrantes fire - now active for over two days - is “showing signs of ceding to operations”, while Grândola too is slowly responding to firefighting efforts.

Alongside the 1,451 vehicles mobilised by Portuguese fire stations and numerous planes and helicopters, Spanish and Moroccan Canadair firefighting planes are involved, working steadily dumping tons of water on a landscape fanned by winds and high temperatures.

Today’s ‘scorcher’ reaching as high as 39ºC will not be helping efforts, particularly as humidity levels remain “very low” in almost all districts.

Newspapers are variously reporting that the country is being “paralysed by fires” and that the risk that more will break out continues at a high until Sunday.

SIC television news has carried a report saying the firefighters’ association believes 80% of blazes have been started deliberately, while printed media is concentrating on specific incidents where communities have been surrounded, property damaged and in rare but tragic cases, people made homeless. So far there have been no serious injuries or worse reported.

Tabloid Correio da Manhã is calling it the “fourth major wave of fires this summer”.

As we write, the Abrantes fire is down to just one active front, with the mayor praising the might of air support, without which the situation would have been much more complicated.

In the Algarve, where once more residents woke up to strong smells of smoke in the air and an eerily fuzzy northern horizon, the situation this morning remains calm, with every borough on orange alert.

To follow this picture through the day you can click on website fogos.pt, join English-language Facebook group Alerta de Incéndio Florestal/ Forest Fire Alert, or keep refreshing RTP’s online page ‘situacao dos incendios ao minuto’.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

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