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Dozens killed in wildfires raging in Portugal, Spain

By Ed Adamczyk
Dozens killed in wildfires raging in Portugal, Spain
Firefighters combat a forest fire in Gaeiras, Marinha Grande, Portugal, on Monday. Photo by Tiago Petinga/EPA-EFE

Oct. 16 (UPI) -- At least 39 people died in wildfires in Spain and Portugal, the National Civil Protection Authority said Monday.

Five of the dead were in Spain's nearby Galicia region. The authority, which uses the acronym ANPC, said at least 63 people were injuried,, 16 of them seriously.

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Unusually high weekend temperatures, as well as high winds and drought conditions fanned the flames of more than 500 individual fires, including 26 the government classified as major fires.

The winds included those brought by Hurricane Ophelia, which approached the western coast of Europe over the weekend.

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa declared a national state of emergency Sunday. Nearly 3,700 firefighters were involved in fighting the fire, the ANCP said Monday.

The largest blaze was near Lousa, a town of about 17,000 in central Portugal's Coimbra district. It was being fought by nearly 600 firefighters on two active fronts and closed traffic on a major road. Twenty-five roads were closed in northern and central Portugal because of the fire.

Forty-eight passengers on a bus traveling through the fire were forced to abandon the vehicle when heat became too intense.

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Fires in June killed at least 64 people and injured at least 200 in Portugal.

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