Three people have been killed and many more homes and buildings were destroyed after wildfires struck Madeira.

Pedro Carneiro, the Portuguese Consul in New Bedford, told WBSM News that, although firefighters are making progress in battling the flames, the current conditions make it very difficult.

"It's a record high actually," said Carneiro "I think the last time such high temperatures were reached were back in the 1970's and the winds are very strong, so these two factors together, combined, they are a recipe for a very complicated situation."

Carneiro does say phone lines are working so those wishing to contact relatives should be able to do so.

As the firefighting efforts continue and recovery work begins the island's criminal justice system is also getting involved.

Carneiro says that three people have been arrested in connection with the fires and are heading to court to face charges.

"We are not absolutely, but apparently these three guys were behind some of these fires," said Carneiro "we don't know exactly why, what are the reasons, but in the next few days we will have a clearer picture."

Carneiro says outreach efforts are underway to help those who were devastated by the fire and anyone wishing to make contributions can visit the Consulate's Facebook page for more information.