Canadair plane being used to battle Portugal wildfires reportedly crashes

“The fire is no longer progressing”, Civil Protection Agency spokesman Vitor Vaz Pinto said, adding that hundreds of firefighters would remain on the scene to prevent it from reigniting.More than 1,000 firefighters still battled to control the flames which broke out in the central Pedrogao Grande region over the weekend and spread at breakneck speed to neighbouring areas.A rescue helicopter and ambulances were mobilised after reports the plane had crashed.He visited the affected area on Sunday and said: “Unfortunately, this seems to be the greatest tragedy we have seen in recent years in terms of forest fires”.As water-bombing planes made regular passes over the flames, there were growing suggestions that forestry practices and outdated emergency planning might have contributed to the disaster.A specialist fire-fighting plane working to quell huge wildfires in Portugal is feared to have crashed, officials have said.The blaze appeared to have been brought under control on Tuesday, only for it to suddenly flare again, forcing authorities to evacuate 40 hamlets near the village of Gois. They said airborne search-and-rescue teams dispatched to look for wreckage didn’t find anything and that no firefighting planes were missing.Some 30 water-dropping aircraft have been battling the blazes, some operating under bilateral agreements with the Portuguese government and others as part of an European Union co-operation agreement.Spain, France and Italy have sent a total of 19 water bombers to help the operation.The Civil Protection Agency said about 1,200 firefighters and nine water-dropping aircraft were fighting the deadly wildfire in Pedrogao Grande, which was raging for a third consecutive day about 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of Lisbon.Portugal is close to containing the wildfire that killed 64 people last weekend, authorities said Wednesday, as a minute of silence was held in memory of the victims.Firefighters from the Spanish Military Emergency Unit continued to battle Portugal’s most deadly blaze which killed 64 people.Temperatures forecast to reach 109 degrees, gusting winds and bone-dry woodland were fueling the blazes, Vaz Pinto said.Government officials say Prime Minister Antonio Costa has ordered an investigation into what happened on Saturday night, when the deaths occurred.