Three dead following wildfire in Portugal's Madeira Islands

The forest fire has forced thousands of people to evacuate the area and left 174 people seeking medical treatment

Three dead following wildfire in Portugal's Madeira Islands

Picture by: Helder Santos / AP/Press Association Images

Three people have died, including an elderly woman, and thousands of people have been evacuated after a wildfire spread across the Portuguese island of Madeira.

According to Funchal authorities, the woman - who has not yet been named - was killed after her house caught fire.

Two other people are believed to be dead following the wildfire. 

Thousands of residents and tourists were sent to makeshift shelters and army barracks during the night, and two hospitals in the area were also evacuated.

A firefighter works to stop a forest fire from reaching houses in Curral dos Romeiros, on the outskirts of Funchal,. Picture by: Helder Santos / AP/Press Association Images

The forest fire destroyed several buildings in the city, including the five-star Choupana Hills hotel, and left 174 people seeking medical treatment.

Wildfires have also affected the Portuguese mainland in recent days as temperatures climb above 35C.

Fire officials said that by Tuesday evening, just over 4,000 firefighters supported by 26 water-dumping planes and 1,262 vehicles were attending 149 blazes of varying sizes across the country.

The fire in Funchal is now believed to be under control and cooler temperatures forecast for today are expected to help put it out, according to the head of Madeira's regional government Miguel Albuquerque. 

Albuquerque said that most of those needing treatment had inhaled smoke and only two were severely hurt, with burns.

He said at least 27 homes were left uninhabitable on the island and that all those killed and injured by the fires were local residents.

Funchal has a population of 111,000 and is one of Portugal's main tourist destinations.