Hope for coolness in Portugal

Preliminary estimates showed about 200,000 hectares (about 494,000 acres) have been burned in Portugal, possibly a bit more. The coming of cool weather helped the firefighters greatly, and the government says there is hope, that the fires will seize spreading.

At least 15 people have died in the fires and vast areas been left charred.

Thousands of firefighters have been battling the blazes for days in central and northern parts of the country.

Cooler, foggy conditions near the historic city of Coimbra helped crews douse the worst fires, although some smaller ones flared up in strong winds.

Forecasters have said the more humid weather should last until at least the weekend, raising hopes that firefighters may keep the upper hand, BBC reports.

Water-dropping aircraft provided by other European countries continue to work alongside Portuguese firefighters in the worst-hit areas.

More than 100 homes have been destroyed in Portugal this year by the fires, often started deliberately in bone-dry countryside forests.

Portuguese police have arrested 115 people on suspicion of starting fires, according to CNN.

The new Socialist government has been criticized for being ill-prepared to fight the fires this year, given the experience of fighting blazes in the past two years under the former conservative government.

The government vowed earlier this week to tighten controls of forest management to prevent future fires, but said its priority was to extinguish the current blazes.

Photo by BBC.

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