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Fires causing TENSION in Portugal

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  • Fires causing TENSION in Portugal

    MACIEIRA, Portugal, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Jittery Portuguese
    villagers, on the lookout for strangers who might have set a
    nearby forest fire, surrounded and questioned this Reuters
    reporter at knifepoint on Thursday.
    The incident outside the village of Macieira, about 180 km
    (110 miles) northeast of Lisbon, underscored rising tensions as
    the worst fires in 20 years sweep Portugal. With at least 14
    people dead in the fires, police are stepping up efforts to
    arrest suspected arsonists.
    As I sat in my parked car to file an oral report by mobile
    phone, a man in his 20s pulled alongside in his car and stopped.
    He asked, "Have you got a problem?," made a call on his own
    mobile phone and pulled his car ahead to block mine.
    The casually dressed man approached my car and said through
    the open window, "What do you think you're doing, speaking
    foreign languages and talking on the phone?"
    Given my journalist's identification card, he said,
    "Journalist, ha!
    "For all we know, you could be one of the people that
    started the fire!" he said as water-bombing aircraft clattered
    low overhead to battle the blaze crackling 200 metres (yards)
    away.
    About five more men in their 20s arrived in cars, blocking
    any exit. The first man brandished a hunting knife while another
    pulled open the car door to get me out of the car.
    A police car turned up and a plainclothes officer emerged to
    calm down the villagers.
    "You must understand that these people are very nervous.
    People have died, and even we get harassed and insulted," said
    the officer, who gave his name as Proenca.
    The fire that erupted in pine woods outside Macieira swept
    from treetop to treetop as more than 200 firefighters, soldiers
    and volunteers struggled to contain it.
    Fire chief Alvaro Monteiro, his voice hoarse in the heat and
    smoke, said the growth of the fire was suspicious.
    "There was one big fire. At the same time, three smaller
    ones," he said. "That gives very strong signs of arson."
    Police arrested at least seven people on Wednesday suspected
    of setting fires. The Forestry Commission said about 162,000
    hectares (400,000 acres), or roughly five percent, of woodlands
    had burned this year, much of it since late July.

    Reut14:14 08-07-03
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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