More than ten villages in central Portugal have been evacuated as forest fires rage in the provinces of Castelo Branco and Santarem. The intensity of the wind is complicating the fight against the flames, which have consumed several homes around the town of Mação.

Portugal wildfires incêndio
A firefighter stands in the middle of a road near flames blazing outside the village of Sanguinheira, near Macao Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP

Almost 5,000 firefighters supported by water-dropping aircraft are deployed across central and northern areas of Portugal as the country continues its annual summertime battle against wildfires.

"The situation is very complicated," the president of the fire brigade told Portuguese-language newspaper DN. "The intensity of the wind is diabolical," said Jaime Marta Soares, saying new fires keep popping up away from the main fires.

"Catastrophic." That is how António Louro, vice-president of the Chamber of Mação, described the situation.

Around 104 forest fires are currently raging around Portugal. So far this year, forest fires have burned 75,264 hectares, an area which surpasses any amount over the same period in the last decade, the National Civil Protection Authority (ANPC) said. Portugal is blighted annually by summer wildfires, and one last month killed 64 people.

Drought conditions, high temperatures and strong winds are whipping up wildfires across southern Europe, with the south of France particularly hard hit.