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article imageNew blazes break out in fire-ravaged central Portugal

By AFP     Jul 23, 2017 in Environment

More than 2,000 firefighters were battling forest fires that broke out on Sunday in central Portugal, which was hit by deadly blazes last month.

The largest of the fires was raging near Serta and residents wielding garden hoses were part of the effort to combat the flames, Portuguese television reports showed.

"The wind is blowing hard and is complicating the fight against the fires, which may spread," said civil protection spokeswoman Patricia Gaspar, who urged residents to remain calm.

More than 800 firefighters were dispatched to the Serta municipality, while almost 600 others were on the ground to deal with a blaze which began on Sunday afternoon near the central riverfront city of Coimbra.

Forest fires also temporarily threatened two villages in the central west of the country.

The blazes follow a period of calm after a series of fires over the summer.

In mid-June a giant blaze broke out at Pedrogao Grande, some 20 kilometres (14 miles) to the south of Serta, before spreading to neighbouring areas.

That fire raged for five days, killing 64 people and injuring more than 250, with many trapped in their cars by the flames.

Portugal later adopted a new law to reduce the number of eucalyptus groves in the country after the highly flammable plant was blamed for the deadly blazes.

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