Wildfires rage as Portugal hit by heatwave

STORY: Meteorologists expect temperatures to reach near or above record highs by Thursday (July 14), likely stoking more blazes.

In the central district of Leiria north of Lisbon, where temperatures soared to 113 degrees Fahrenheit, authorities blocked a major motorway preventing locals from reaching the area affected by the wildfire.

Plumes of smoke were seen billowing from the forest as aircraft flew in to support to firefighters, Reuters footage showed.

Nearly 800 firefighters were combating two active blazes in the area, while in the whole of mainland Portugal 24 forest blazes have mobilized 2,124 firefighters backed by 28 aircraft. Villagers who have not been evacuated poured water on roofs of their homes.

Nearly all of mainland Portugal was on red alert for extreme heat conditions, the IPMA weather institute said. The country's record temperature of 47.3 C was registered in 2003.

The World Meteorological Organisation warned on Tuesday the heatwave was spreading and intensifying in large parts of Europe.

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