LATEST: Portugal battles to contain deadly wildfires amid heat and wind

UPDATE 3.15pm:Emergency services in Portugal have said they are making headway in their battle to control a major wildfire that killed 64 people in the central area of the country, but another blaze nearby has grown in size and is causing concern.

The Civil Protection Agency said about 1,200 firefighters and nine water-dropping aircraft were fighting the deadly wildfire in Pedrogao Grande, which was raging for a third consecutive day about 150 kilometres (90 miles) north of Lisbon.

Officials said that blaze was mostly contained though still burning fiercely.

Temperatures forecast to reach 43C (109F), gusting winds and bone-dry woodland were fuelling the blazes, Commander Vitor Vaz Pinto told reporters.

Some resources were being diverted to Gois, about 20 kilometres from Pedrogao Grande, where almost 800 firefighters and four planes were battling the flames.

Mr Vaz Pinto said the Gois wildfire was "very fast and very explosive" and had forced the evacuation of 11 hill villages.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa has ordered an investigation into what happened on Saturday night when the deaths occurred, 47 of them on a road as people fled the flames.

Mr Costa's order asked three questions: whether the extreme weather could explain the scale of the disaster, why emergency services communications at times did not work, and why the road where the deaths occurred was not closed.

AP

Firefighters in Portugal have said they are close to bringing under control a major wildfire that killed 64 people in the central area of the country.

More than 1,000 firefighters and nine water-dropping aircraft are battling the blaze in Pedrogao Grande, which is raging for a third consecutive day.

The Civil Protection Agency said it hoped to contain the flames on Tuesday, though temperatures forecast to reach 43C (109F) and gusting winds remain a threat.

The death toll was raised from 63 to 64 late on Monday.

Government officials said Prime Minister Antonio Costa has ordered an investigation into what happened on Saturday night, when the deaths occurred.

AP


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