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Last Updated: Monday, 26 July, 2004, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
Bush fires cause havoc in Europe
Fire damage in France
Fires caused damage to property in France, Spain and Portugal
Fires in tinder dry forest and scrub land have caused havoc in Portugal, Spain and France.

Villages, homes and beaches have been evacuated as thousands of firefighters tackle the flames using water-carrying planes, lorries and helicopters.

In Portugal, where temperatures have reached 40C, fires are still blazing in southern Faro, and in the north near Porto and Villa Real.

The fires in France are thought to have been started deliberately.

French Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin has said arson was to blame for brush fires near Marseille which were brought under control on Sunday.

"There are criminals behind this," he said. "We can see that because the fires started next to the highway. We have already made some arrests. We want to bring those responsible for these fires to justice."

Roads blocked

Most of the 2,000 residents evacuated from their homes in Vitrolles were allowed back home on Sunday.

Spain and Portugal have already suffered a spate of brush and forest fires when temperatures reached record levels earlier this month.

And on Monday a number of fires continue, fuelled by winds and high temperatures.

In Spain, there are reports of fires in the Orense province, Leon and Andalucia. Authorities were forced to block a road which is a key route for pilgrims travelling to Santiago de Compostela in north-western Spain.

Neighbours helped a farmer in Leon to round up 600 sheep after his farm was surrounded by flames.

"The fires have destroyed everything," he told Efe news agency.

In Portugal, a number of houses in the tourist area in the southern Algarve have burnt down.

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