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Massive Fires Rage in Portugal

Thousands of firefighters are struggling to control dozens of wildfires in Portugal, raging amid a summer heat wave across the country.


Burned traffic signs stand by a road on Aug. 9, 2016, near Agueda, in the region of Aveiro, northern Portugal, where a fire raged Monday.


Sergio Azenha / AP

A trunk burns on a hillside where a wildfire raged in the region of Aveiro on Aug. 9.

The National Civil Protection Service said almost 3,900 firefighters were in action in a massive operation Wednesday, supported by 32 water-dumping aircraft and 1,150 vehicles. Even that wasn't enough, and the government requested help from other European Union countries.

Sergio Azenha / AP

People take pictures of the smoke rising from a wildfire in Funchal, the capital of Portugal's Madeira Islands, on Aug. 9.

A wildfire swept overnight into Funchal, killing three elderly people and injuring hundreds as it burned homes and forced people to flee in panic, authorities said Wednesday.

JOANA SOUSA / AFP - Getty Images
Image: Forest fire in Regoufe, Arouca

Firefighters tackle a forest fire in Regoufe, Arouca, Portugal, August 9.



Firefighting vehicles line the street in the historic center of Funchal in the Madeira islands on Aug. 9.

Miguel Albuquerque, head of Madeira's regional government, told reporters three victims there died in their burned homes early Wednesday as the wildfire hit the coastal city in the dark. He said two other people were seriously hurt, one person is missing and more than 300 people required medical treatment for smoke inhalation and minor burns.

HELDER SANTOS / AFP - Getty Images
Image: Forest fire in Madeira Island

People watch a fire burn in Funchal on Aug. 9. 


A woman looks over a balcony at burned houses in Campo da Barca in Funchal on Aug. 10. The Madeira fire, fueled by hot weather and strong winds, forced the evacuation of around 1,000 residents and tourists in the islands off northwestern Africa.

Residents described chaotic nighttime scenes, with people fleeing the flames by car at high speed on the wrong side of the road.

JOANA SOUSA / AFP - Getty Images

A firefighter tackles a wildfire in Torredeita near Viseu, central Portugal, on Aug. 9. 

Francisco Leong / AFP - Getty Images

A firefighter stands on a roof while battling a blaze at Curral dos Romeiros, Funchal, on Aug. 9.

The blaze broke out on Monday and firefighters said the island's steep hills and dense woodland made it hard to reach the flames. Officials suspect the fire was started deliberately and police have made two arrests.

JOANA SOUSA / AFP - Getty Images
Image: People on the streets of Bom Sucesso, near to a fire during the wildfires at Funchal, Madeira island

Residents walk through smoke on the streets of Bom Sucesso in Funchal in the Madeira islands. Reinforcements, including firefighters and doctors, were due to arrive Wednesday from the Portuguese mainland.


DUARTE SA / Reuters
Image: Forest fire in Portuguese Viseu region

Firefighters hose down a blaze in Portugal's Viseu region on Aug. 9. 

Forest fires have been ravaging parts of Portugal since last Saturday, when strong winds and high temperatures swept across the country, and have stretched resources to the limit. 


A truck drives through a road where a forest fire raged earlier near Agueda, northern Portugal.

Sergio Azenha / AP