Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Residents flee island forest fires

Forest fires rage near houses on the hills above the city of Funchal (AP)

Residents on the Atlantic island of Madeira fled in panic as forest fires threatened homes.

Two houses were destroyed and dozens more damaged.

About 100 people were unable to return to their homes after the fire on the outskirts of Funchal sent towering flames illuminating the city's hilly backdrop, Mayor Miguel Albuquerque said.

Some people were treated for smoke inhalation, but none sustained serious injuries.

Television images showed Funchal residents using garden hoses to try to put out fires near homes and brooms to beat down flames on rooftops.

The blaze did not immediately threaten the city but other fires broke out elsewhere on the island. Portugal's state-run Lusa news agency said 14 school children were removed from a school and 40 people were evacuated from homes because of the fires.

Heavy winds were hindering firefighters' efforts to extinguish the fires.

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