LISBON: Three people were killed and around a thousand forced to flee overnight as fires engulfed the Portuguese island of Madeira, rescuers said on Wednesday, as the flames reached the capital Funchal. The three victims died in their homes close to Funchal’s historic center while local media reported that two others were seriously injured by the raging inferno that has gripped Madeira, a popular tourist destination in the eastern Atlantic. A vast ball of smoke was seen above Funchal on Tuesday with the evening sky turned orange by the flames, prompting locals to photograph the scene from surrounding hills. Fires began in the hills around Funchal on Monday night with the situation worsening dramatically on Tuesday evening as strong winds fanned the flames, spreading the blaze to other parts of the city. Some evacuees have been forced to sleep in military bases since the blaze started, said Rubina Leal, the head of Madeira’s Civil Protection office. Others have been moved to a football stadium to wait for the fire to be tackled, according to Funchal mayor Paulo Cafofo, quoted by the Lusa news agency.