Fires kill 4 people in Portugal, 1,000 evacuated on Madeira

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Portugal Wildfires
A wildfire blazes near houses at Curral dos Romeiros, Funchal in Madeira island on August 9, 2016. Several houses were destroyed by multiple blazes in the region of Funchal and some 250 people were evacuated to spend the safe night in military installations, said the head of the Civil Protection government regional, Rubina Leal. / AFP / JOANA SOUSA (Photo credit should read JOANA SOUSA/AFP/Getty Images)
A firefighter stands as she tackles a wildfire in Torredeita near Viseu, central Portugal, on August 9 2016. Forest fires, raging since Friday in northern Portugal, had redoubled in vigor late yesterday, mobilizing more than 3,000 men fighting against 160 fires, eight classified as 'important'. / AFP / FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
A firefighter runs as she tackles a wildfire in Torredeita near Viseu, central Portugal, on August 9 2016. Forest fires, raging since Friday in northern Portugal, had redoubled in vigor late yesterday, mobilizing more than 3,000 men fighting against 160 fires, eight classified as 'important'. / AFP / FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
A man carries gas cylinders as a wildfire blazes at Curral dos Romeiros, Funchal in Madeira island on August 9, 2016. Several houses were destroyed by multiple blazes in the region of Funchal and some 250 people were evacuated to spend the safe night in military installations, said the head of the Civil Protection government regional, Rubina Leal. / AFP / JOANA SOUSA (Photo credit should read JOANA SOUSA/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - People take pictures of the smoke rising from a wildfire at Curral dos Romeiros, Funchal in Madeira island on August 9, 2016. Several houses were destroyed by multiple blazes in the region of Funchal and some 250 people were evacuated to spend the safe night in military installations, said the head of the Civil Protection government regional, Rubina Leal. / AFP / JOANA SOUSA (Photo credit should read JOANA SOUSA/AFP/Getty Images)
A firefighter tries to extinguish a wildfire at Curral dos Romeiros, Funchal in Madeira island on August 9, 2016. Several houses were destroyed by multiple blazes in the region of Funchal and some 250 people were evacuated to spend the safe night in military installations, said the head of the Civil Protection government regional, Rubina Leal. / AFP / JOANA SOUSA (Photo credit should read JOANA SOUSA/AFP/Getty Images)
A firefighter looks on as a colleague gestures before they tackle a wildfire in Torredeita near Viseu, central Portugal, on August 9 2016. Forest fires, raging since Friday in northern Portugal, had redoubled in vigor late yesterday, mobilizing more than 3,000 men fighting against 160 fires, eight classified as 'important'. / AFP / FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
A firefighter stands on a roof of a house and tries to extinguish a wildfire at Curral dos Romeiros, Funchal in Madeira island on August 9, 2016. Several houses were destroyed by multiple blazes in the region of Funchal and some 250 people were evacuated to spend the safe night in military installations, said the head of the Civil Protection government regional, Rubina Leal. / AFP / JOANA SOUSA (Photo credit should read JOANA SOUSA/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A firefighter kneels over near colleagues as they tackle a wildfire in Torredeita near Viseu, central Portugal, on August 9 2016. Forest fires, raging since Friday in northern Portugal, had redoubled in vigor late yesterday, mobilizing more than 3,000 men fighting against 160 fires, eight classified as 'important'. / AFP / FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke rises from a wildfire over Galeao and Alegria in Sao Roque, Madeira island on August 9, 2016. Several houses were destroyed by multiple blazes in the region of Funchal and some 250 people were evacuated to spend the safe night in military installations, said the head of the Civil Protection government regional, Rubina Leal. / AFP / HELDER SANTOS (Photo credit should read HELDER SANTOS/AFP/Getty Images)
A villager helps firefighters to combat a wildfire raging in Bustelo, close to Barcelos, northern Portugal, on August 8, 2016. Portuguese meteorologists have advised that up to Wednesday nearly the entire north of the country was at a 'very high to maximum' risk of forest fires. Forest fires, raging since Friday in northern Portugal, had redoubled in vigor late yesterday, mobilizing more than 3,000 men fighting against 160 fires, eight classified as 'important'. / AFP / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A firefighter pulls a hose during a fire in Bustelo, next to Barcelos, northern Portugal, on August 8, 2016. Portuguese meteorologists have advised that up to Wednesday nearly the entire north of the country was at a 'very high to maximum' risk of forest fires. Forest fires, raging since Friday in northern Portugal, had redoubled in vigor late yesterday, mobilizing more than 3,000 men fighting against 160 fires, eight classified as 'important'. / AFP / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)
Burnt traffic signs stand by a road, Tuesday, Aug. 9 2016, near Agueda, in the region of Aveiro, northern Portugal, where a fire raged Monday. The National Civil Protection Service said some 2,900 firefighters were in action Tuesday fighting dozens of forest fires. The worst-hit areas were in northern Portugal, where temperatures have exceeded 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) since Saturday. (AP Photo/Sergio Azenha)
A villager tries to extinguish a wildfire with a hose in Bustelo, close to Barcelos, northern Portugal, on August 8, 2016. Portuguese meteorologists have advised that up to Wednesday nearly the entire north of the country was at a 'very high to maximum' risk of forest fires. Forest fires, raging since Friday in northern Portugal, had redoubled in vigor late yesterday, mobilizing more than 3,000 men fighting against 160 fires, eight classified as 'important'. / AFP / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters pull a hose as they combat a wildfire in Bustelo, close to Barcelos, northern Portugal, on August 8, 2016. Portuguese meteorologists have advised that up to Wednesday nearly the entire north of the country was at a 'very high to maximum' risk of forest fires. Forest fires, raging since Friday in northern Portugal, had redoubled in vigor late yesterday, mobilizing more than 3,000 men fighting against 160 fires, eight classified as 'important'. / AFP / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)
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LISBON, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Wildfires raging in Portugal killed at least four people and more than 1,000 people were evacuated on the tourist destination island of Madeira, where flames spread to its regional capital, Funchal, authorities said on Wednesday.

The Portuguese interior ministry said it had requested help from the European Union. Neighboring Spain sent two planes and Italy one aircraft to help with the fire-fighting efforts.

"This abnormal situation surpasses the normal response capacity of our forces," Prime Minister Antonio Costa said, warning that the next few days could be critical due to scorching temperatures.

Lisbon also sent a force of more than 100 emergency service workers on a military plane to Madeira, where the fires, fanned by strong winds, have killed three people, destroyed about 40 homes and a five-star hotel in the hills above Funchal.

See eyewitness footage from the wildfires:

Wildfires sweep through Portugal's Madeira

On mainland Portugal, one person was killed by flames in the central Santarem region as thousands of firefighters struggled to control dozens of forest fires, raging amid a summer heat wave across the country.

The fires have destroyed homes, shut major motorways for hours and forced the evacuation of several villages this week, mostly in the north of Portugal.

The fire in Funchal was mostly under control by late morning, regional governor Miguel Albuquerque told a televised news conference, but several other blazes were still raging on the island.

He said 80 people were in hospital suffering from burns and smoke inhalation, including two in a serious condition.

SEE ALSO: Firefighters battle to tame Los Angeles-area wildfires

All those killed and injured by the fires were local residents. One person was missing, Albuquerque said.

More than 1,000 residents and tourists were sent to makeshift shelters and army barracks during the night, although some had been allowed to return since. Two hospitals in the area were also evacuated.

Police have said that various fires were lit by arsonists and they arrested several suspects.

Summer forest fires are common in Portugal, which in 2003 suffered its deadliest blazes, killing 19 people and destroying around 10 percent of the country's forests. (Reporting by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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