Portugal is seeking European Union help as the country's firefighters struggle to contain forest blazes blamed on high temperatures and strong winds.

Dozens of fires are raging in the centre and north of the country, with 1,700 firefighters being deployed.

Portugal is asking for four water-dumping aircraft, after a helicopter being used in the operations crashed.

Officials say one man died while trying to protect his farm from one of the largest blazes, at Ourem about 150km north of Lisbon.

Media reported two people were hurt when a firefighting helicopter crashed in the same area.

Much of Portugal is in severe drought, and hot, windy weather is forecast for most of the week.

Patricia Gaspar, a civil protection service official, said Portugal has asked other European countries to provide at least four water-dumping aircraft.

Neighbouring Spain has also been battling fires this year, with some 153,000 hectares of land scorched since January.

Over the weekend, thousands of people fled homes along the southern Costa del Sol, home to a large British expatriate community and one of Spain's most popular holiday destinations.

Source: Agencies