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Wildfires Start Ripping Through Millionaires' Neighbourhood In Devastating Blazes

Wildfires Start Ripping Through Millionaires' Neighbourhood In Devastating Blazes

Portugal has been battling wildfires as temperatures across Europe soar

Wildfires have ripped through a millionaires' neighbourhood in Portugal amid sweltering temperatures in the country.

Many stars have holiday homes in the Quinta do Lago resort, in the Algarve region in the south of the country, but residents had to be evacuated as blazes raged through golf courses and encroached on villas.

Entrepreneur and former Dragon's Den star Duncan Bannatyne said he was among those ordered to flee.

Sharing footage of the fires on Twitter, he said he was 'evicted' on what he labelled a 'terrible day in the Algarve'.

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More than 3,000 firefighters are battling alongside ordinary Portuguese citizens desperate to save their homes from wildfires ravaging the country.

The central part of the country has been particularly hard hit by a spate of blazes this week. In the village of Bemposta, residents used garden hoses to spray down their lawns and the roofs of their houses in the hope that they could save them from the raging wall of red flames that approached through the wooded hills late on Wednesday (13 July).

"It began spreading towards that way (the right), the wind was blowing that way towards the mountain," said 88-year-old Antonio Carmo Pereira, while pointing to the flames on the outskirts of his village.

"I could see the view, but in a few minutes I couldn’t see anything, just smoke.

"(It's) dangerous, yes. It’s surrounding all the houses. I am afraid, but where can I go? Jump into a water tank? Let me stay here and look."

A forest fire in Palmela, Portugal on 13 July.
Getty Images

More than 800 firefighters still fought on in the Leiria district, where Bemposta is located, on Thursday (14 July) morning.

Temperatures in the interior of the Atlantic country were forecast to hit 44C (111F) during the day as the mass of hot and dry air blown up from Africa continues to linger over the western edge of the Iberian Peninsula.

In June, 96 percent of Portugal was classified as being in either 'extreme' or 'severe' drought.

The hot air and parched ground, combined with winds, has created the perfect cocktail of severe fires.

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Thursday that with temperatures expected to remain unusually high for the coming days his government plans to extend a state of alert for wildfires until Sunday. The week-long alert was originally declared to run until Friday.

The government has temporarily barred public access to forests deemed to be at special risk, banned the use of farm machinery and outlawed fireworks.

Costa said that firefighters had to respond to 200 different blazes on Wednesday and pleaded for his fellow citizens to take extra care when in the countryside.

"More than ever, we are the ones who must be extremely careful," Costa said. "From a small act of carelessness a great tragedy can be born."

About 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres) have been scorched this week in Portugal, according to the Civil Protection Agency.

About 865 people had been forced to evacuated their homes over the past week, although many had returned by Thursday.

More than 30 homes and other types of buildings had been damaged.

The European Union has urged member states to prepare for wildfires this summer as the continent faces another extreme weather shift that scientists say is being triggered by climate change.

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Featured Image Credit: @DuncanBannatyne/Twitter

Topics: News, Weather