Poor Visibility Hinders Fight Against Wildfire in Portugal

A forest fire rages on a hillside in the outskirts of La Londe-les-Maures on the French Riviera, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Authorities ordered the evacuation of 10,000 people as fires hopscotched around the Riviera for a third day Wednesday, tearing through the forest of La Londe-les-Maures. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

Emergency services in Portugal are getting no respite from wildfires that are charring wide areas of forest – and the huge billowing clouds of smoke they are generating are making visibility too poor to use water-dropping aircraft.

More than 2,300 firefighters with more than 700 vehicles are battling 13 blazes. The flames are being driven by powerful winds across steep hillsides of dense pine and eucalyptus forest Wednesday.

The worst-hit areas are in the center of Portugal, 200 kilometers (125 miles) northeast of Lisbon. The fires briefly forced the evacuation of some hamlets there and the closure of a section of the A23 highway.

Portugal’s peak fire season, which usually occurs after July 1, began early this year amid a severe drought. Last month, 64 people died in a wildfire.

Source: Associated Press