Scorching heatwave sparks wildfires in Portugal

STORY: Thousands of firefighters battled more than 20 blazes that raged on Wednesday across Portugal and western Spain, menacing villages and disrupting tourists' holidays amid a heat wave that pushed temperatures above 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) in some parts of Europe.

In France, hundreds of firefighters, supported by six water-bomber aircraft, battled two wildfires in the southwest, which prompted the evacuation of thousands of campers, Gironde prefect Fabienne Buccio said.

In Santiago de Guarda in the central Portuguese district of Leiria, Albertina Francisco struggled to hold back tears as a cloud of black smoke billowed over the tiny village.

"It was very hard," said Francisco, 42, who was helping her sick sister evacuate. "Nobody helped - the firefighters and the (water-bomber) aircraft only got here now...The state must do more to help us."

Some villagers rescued pets while others helped firefighters battle the flames.

In Leiria, where over 3,000 hectares have burned so far, authorities blocked major motorways and side streets as strong winds made it harder for firefighters to fight the flames. Portugal's most important highway, connecting its capital Lisbon to Porto, was also blocked due to another fire farther north.

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