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Explosive devices found in wildfire-raging Central Portugal

Christian Fernsby |
The Portuguese authorities have found explosive devices in several areas of the municipality of Vila de Rei, in Castelo Branco, Central Portugal, where several fires have been raging since Saturday and caused 20 injuries, one of them seriously, local media reported on Sunday.

Citing an official source, SIC News reported with the picture of one of the explosives that the new evidence raises the suspicions of criminal hand in the fires that are raging in the central region of the country and approaching several villages under the influence of strong wind and high temperature.

Suspicions of fire had already been raised by local authorities and Minister of Internal Administration Eduardo Cabrita, who said it was "strange" to have five fires in an hour.

The Judiciary Police announced earlier that it has detained a 55-year-old man suspected of setting a fire in Castelo Branco.

The authorities disclosed that 15 villages, including Chao do Piao and Casas da Ribeira, are threatened by rapid approaching of the flames, adding that local roads has been cut for precaution, while the the National Republic Guard ordered in the afternoon the evacuation of Cardigos, a parish in the municipality of Macao.

The fire, that started at about 3:00 p.m. Saturday in the town of Fundada, Vila de Rei and later extended to the municipality of Macao, has remained active for almost 29 hours and is being fought by 1,324 firefighters, 406 vehicles and one helicopter at 8:30 p.m. local time, according to the website of the National Authority for Civil Protection.

The European Union (EU) is "ready to increase its assistance" to Portugal, if requested, in the case of the fires ravaging the country, said European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides.

"The EU is ready to increase its assistance, if necessary and requested," he said in his tweet, adding that the EU was producing satellite maps of the fires.

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