A WAVE of wildfires has killed at least 35 people and injured more than 50 in Portugal and across the Spanish border.
More than 500 fires were declared last weekend andat the time of printing, thousands of firefighters were still working to extinguish the flames.
The wildfires have been exacerbated by Hurricane Ophelia approaching Europe’s western coast, bringing strong winds increasing the ferocity of the flames
The fires caused the greatest impact in central and north Portugal.
In Spain, the wildfires broke out across the border in the Galicia region.
Alberto Nunez Feijoo, the leader of Galicia, said that many of the fires had started as acts of arson.
“The only thing we desire is that these criminals pay for what they have done,” he told a news conference.
However, it has emerged that two weeks ago, Galicia dismissed 436 forest rangers who had been hired on temporary contracts over the summer months.
When he was asked to justify the decision, Feijoo said that the risk of fire along the Atlantic coast had “lowered significantly.”
On Monday Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who is from Galicia, travelled to his home region.
Rajoy also suggested that arson was behind the fires.
“It’s impossible that this could have happened in normal conditions,” he said.