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Portuguese wildfire envelops Madrid skyscrapers in smoke 400 km away

Portuguese wildfire envelops Madrid skyscrapers in smoke 400 km away

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(Reuters) – MADRID Skyscrapers in Madrid, commonly referred to as the “Four Towers,” were engulfed in smoke from a massive wildfire in central Portugal on Tuesday, and locals there complained of a strong burning odor.

The blaze in Portugal’s Serra da Estrela national park began on August 6 and was mostly extinguished by Sunday, but it flared up again on Monday, forcing the evacuation of several villages.

More than 17,000 hectares have been destroyed by the fire, which has more than 1,100 firefighters and 13 waterbombing aircraft working to contain it.

Andre Fernandes, commander of civil defense forces, said the fire’s multiple fronts made it difficult to contain in the dry, windy conditions.

NASA Worldview satellite images revealed that the plume of smoke extended from the western half of the Iberian peninsula to the eastern half and beyond Madrid, where emergency services had to reassure worried citizens that there was no fire in their area.

Though, in Valencia, hundreds of firefighters worked nonstop to contain two wildfires.

Since Sunday, when lightning started a wildfire that has since burned over 9,500 hectares in the Vall d’Ebo area south of Valencia, roads have been closed and about 2,000 people have been evacuated.

Parts of the peninsula are drier now than they have been in 1,200 years because of climate change, according to a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience last month.

Since Spain’s meteorological service began keeping records in 1961, July has been the hottest month on record.

According to the European Forest Fire Information System, wildfires in Spain have scorched over 270,000 hectares so far in 2022, far exceeding the 15-year annual average of 70,000.

Fires in Portugal’s forests have destroyed about 85,000 hectares, or nearly 1% of the country’s territory. This is the highest percentage of land affected by wildfires in the European Union.

(Guillermo Martinez, Silvio Castellanos, Patricia Rua, Christina Thykjaer, Andrei Khalip, Mark Heinrich reported and edited)