Oct. 16 (UPI) — At least 31 people have died due to wildfires in Portugal, the country’s National Civil Protection Authority said Monday.
Another five people died in fires in Spain’s nearby Galicia region.
The flames of over 500 individual fires, classified by the government as 26 major fires, were stimulated by unusually high weekend temperatures, as well as high winds and drought conditions.
The winds included those brought by Hurricane Ophelia, which approached the western coast of Europe over the weekend.
Prime Minister Antonio Costa declared a national state of emergency on Sunday. Nearly 3,700 firefighters are involved in fighting the fire, the NCPA said on Monday.
The largest blaze is near Lousa, a town of about 17,000 in central Portugal’s Coimbra district. It is being fought by nearly 600 firefighters on two active fronts and has closed traffic on a major road. Twenty-five roads are closed in northern and central Portugal because of the fire.
Forty-eight passengers on a bus traveling through the fire were forced to abandon the vehicle when heat became too intense.
Fires in June killed at least 64 people and injured at least 200 in Portugal.