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Weather Helping Fight Against Deadly Wildfires in Spain, Portugal

  • VOA News

The remnants of burnt out car in which an elderly couple was killed sits by the side of the road where the couple was caught by a wildfire, in the village of Relvas near Santa Comba Dao, northern Portugal, Oct. 16, 2017.

Rain and cooler temperatures are helping firefighters in Portugal and Spain’s Galicia region battle wildfires that have killed at least 40 people.

Authorities in Portugal said Tuesday the fires there were under control, while in Spain the blazes were still threatening inhabited areas.

Portugal also began three days of mourning Tuesday.

Winds from Hurricane Ophelia fanned the wildfires that officials in both countries have said were started by arsonists.

“They are absolutely intentional fires, premeditated, caused by people who knew what they are doing,” said Alberto Nunez Feijoo, the head of Galicia’s government.

Juan Ignacio Zoido, Spain’s interior minister, said in a tweet that several people had already been identified in connection with the fires. He appealed for people with further information to share it with the national protection service.

Wildfires are an annual problem in Portugal, where strong winds off the Atlantic blow into a hot and dry country. In June, a massive forest wildfire killed 64 people and injured 150 others. Scientists say climate change has extended the wildfire season from two to five months.

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