Sun-isle residents flee as fires threaten homes

Residents on the holiday island of Madeira fled in panic yesterday 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 blaze 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.

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The blaze did not immediately threaten the city but other fires broke out elsewhere on the Atlantic island.

Portugal’s state-run Lusa news agency said 14 pupils were removed from a school and 40 people were evacuated from homes.

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