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The fires contained in Portugal and Corsica, but the risk remains

Ⓒ AFP – Pascal POCHARD-CASABIANCA – | Firefighters in Corsica, Friday, August 11, 2017.

The violent fires that were raging in Portugal and the French island of Corsica were contained Saturday in the late afternoon but the risk of recoveries remained high because of the hot temperatures.

In Corsica, several fires have ravaged some 2,000 hectares of scrubland without causing casualties. In the night, a man “suspected of having caused five starts of fire in Bastia”, a city of 40,000 inhabitants in the north-east of the island, was placed in custody, it was learned Saturday With the prefect of Haute-Corse, Gérard Gavory.

At Cape Corsica, the northernmost point where the first fire started in the night from Thursday to Friday, the fire was now “contained but not controlled”, AFP told the prefecture, Presents a threat to the inhabitants “.

In Sisco, nearly 180 firefighters, reinforced by firefighters from Bouches-du-Rhône and Marseille firemen, continued their work with the help of three Canadair and four Traker.

Faced with the progression of the flames in this sector, nearly 1,000 people – most of them campers or hikers using the very popular GR20 trail – had to be evacuated to schools or confined to shelters, The prefect.

“We were out all night,” Bernard Weber, a 60-year-old tourist, told AFP. “There were big flames everywhere. At 1,200 meters of altitude, the whole ridge was inflamed,” said the pensioner.

– Risk of new outbreaks –

In Portugal, firefighters also mobilized by hundreds for several days, managed to control on Saturday the two major fires that were still raging in the center, but the risk of new outbreaks remained high.

The forest fire that ravaged the region of Abrantes since Wednesday was mastered Saturday in the early afternoon, announced the Civil Protection. The progress of the flames was halted, but more than 500 firefighters, nearly 200 vehicles and three helicopters remained mobilized around the hills north of the city of the district of Santarém, in order to control possible fire resumption.

The home of Alvaiazere, which had been declared the day before in the area of ​​Leiria, was also circumscribed Saturday. More than 200 firefighters, 80 vehicles and a water bomber plane were still working on its total extinction.

Due to weather forecasts with temperatures approaching 40 degrees, the orange alert level, the fourth out of five gravity ranges, will remain in effect at least until the end of Monday, Spokesman for civil protection, Patricia Gaspar.

“Portugal recorded yesterday (Friday) the highest number of forest fires in a single day” since the beginning of the year, with 220 fire starts, she said.

Ⓒ AFP – PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA – | The firefighters were strongly mobilized in Portugal, in the center of the country, Friday, August 11, 2017.

In mid-June, a gigantic brazier caused 64 deaths and over 200 wounded near Pedrogao Grande, ravaging for five days this region of central Portugal before being controlled.

Since mid-July, the South-East of France and Corsica have also experienced repeated fires that have destroyed more than 7,000 hectares of vegetation.

The authorities have again urged the population to exercise utmost caution in Haute-Corse (north of the island) and Var (southern France), due to the risk of fires linked to a very severe drought and Strong gusts of wind expected.

Several people have been indicted in recent weeks in investigations into these fires. On Friday, a young man suspected of provoking 16 fires was charged and placed in pre-trial detention.

President Emmanuel Macron spoke on Saturday with the chief of the Haute-Corse fire brigade, Colonel Charles Baldassari, expressing “his full solidarity with the fire brigade” and welcoming “their full mobilization”.

At the beginning of the week, the Upper Corsican firefighters had published an open letter “to citizens and incendiaries”, mentioning their “disgust”, “exhaustion”, and “human and material overexposure”.

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