Raging wildfires in Portugal and northern Spain threaten expat lives and properties

Published:  17 Oct at 6 PM
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Tagged: Spain, USA, South Africa, Euro
Massive wildfires raging in northern Spain and Portugal may have been started by human intervention, according to investigators.

Up to 40 people are believed to have died in the blazes, with dozens more injured and hundreds losing their homes. Over 140 separate fires are being fought in Portugal, with firefighters struggling against high winds caused by Hurricane Ophelia fanning the flames. In the northern Spain region of Galicia, blazes are approaching heavily inhabited districts and thousands of residents are being evacuated. Politicians in both counties are suggesting the fires were started by ‘terrorist arsonists’.

Galicia’s Vigo province is surrounded by 17 major blazes, and Portuguese government official have places a state of emergency order in areas north of the River Tajo. One lucky survivor driving on the A17 motorway near the Portuguese city of Vagos was almost overtaken by the flames, but managed to keep himself focused although the fires were just yards away. He used his dashcam to film the terrifying scene whilst accelerating to avoid the worst of the heat and smoke.

In Portugal, more than 6,000 firefighters are attempting to control the many fires still breaking out in forested areas north of the Tajo river. In Spain, deaths and more than 50 serious injuries have been reported in Viseu and Castelo Brando, and an unknown number of residents are missing. The fires are reckoned to be the worst for ten years, and follow on the June wildfire in Portugal’s Pedrogao Grande which took the lives of 64 people after villagers were not warned to evacuate in time.

Both regions are home to expat retirees as well as Britons and other EU nationals who’ve relocated to start new businesses. As the blazes took hold, the Portuguese Minister of the Economy found himself about to leave for London to promote his country as a hub for new foreign investment. The Portuguese government is taking advantage of the Brexit confusion and chaos to promote the country as a stable, safe place for entrepreneurs, promoting Portugal as the latest ‘new kid on the block’ for Brits rushing to leave before March 2019.
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