Portugal requests EU help in battling brush fires | News | DW | 04.09.2012
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Portugal requests EU help in battling brush fires

Portugal has applied for assistance from the European Union as it battles a series of wildfires that have broken out in the north of the country over the past few days.

A spokesperson for Portugal's civilian protection agency said that at least four water bomber aircraft were needed to combat the flames.

Around 3,000 firefighters from across Portugal have been brought in to battle an estimated 20 brushfires, which have claimed one life so far. A man was found burnt to death near a town about 150 kilometers (93 miles) north of Lisbon on Monday. The Lusa news agency quoted the mayor of the town of Ourem who said the man had perished while apparently trying to rescue his chicken farm.

Also on Monday, two people were injured when a Russian built helicopter that had been carrying water to douse the flames crashed.

Wildfires earlier in the summer claimed the lives of two Portuguese firefighters.

The country's Instutitute of Conservation and Forestry says more than 70,000 hectares (173,000 acres) of land has been destroyed by fires since the start of the year.

Portugal is among several countries in southern Europe that have experienced a severe drought - a contributing factor to wildfires - this summer.

pfd/msh (AFP, DAPD)