Portugal fires today: Tourists flee Odemira as wildfire inferno spreads to Algarve in 46C heat

Spanish firefighting planes have been deployed to assist in tackling wildfires in Portugal as the country experiences a heatwave with temperatures reaching 46C. The wildfires started in the municipality of Odemira and have since spread south towards the Algarve, a popular tourist destination. Around 1,400 people have been evacuated and hundreds of firefighters are working to control the blaze, with nine of them sustaining injuries. Blockades have been put in place on several roads, and over 100 tourists have been evacuated from their hotels in Odemira. The mayor of Odemira called the situation “critical, difficult, and complex”. The Civil Protection secretary of state, Patricia Gaspar, warned that the weather conditions in the coming days could cause even small fires to escalate quickly. Air quality in Odemira has been rated as “poor” by forecaster AccuWeather, with high levels of pollution unhealthy for sensitive groups.

On Tuesday, three districts in the north of Portugal were issued a red warning for extreme heat, with temperatures expected to reach 41C in the city of Castelo Branco. The Portuguese weather agency IPMA has issued red alerts for extreme heat across six districts, including Lisbon. Over 120 municipalities across Portugal have been declared at maximum risk of wildfires. Firefighters are also battling wildfires in central Portugal, with thousands of hectares at risk due to the soaring temperatures.

The municipality of Odemira, where the wildfires originated, is located in the Alentejo region and is the largest municipality in Portugal by area. It is known for its wild beaches. The wildfires have spread south towards the Algarve, causing destruction in the interior woodland. Efforts to combat the flames have been complicated by high temperatures and strong winds. The wildfires have so far destroyed around 6,700 hectares of land.

The Met Office has issued a weather update for Spain, Portugal, and North Africa as temperatures continue to rise. The heat is expected to extend further north and east before returning to average temperatures by the weekend.

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