Mainland declares extreme fire risk

… as temperatures head for 47°

Resident fighting high fire risk

Público reports that The President of the Republic has warned of “a peak” fire risk on the mainland, with what is described as an “aggravation” starting today, Tuesday. The newspaper reports that 80% of the country will be considered as being under “exceptional” fire risk as of Thursday and Friday as temperatures.

The European Commission mobilized two Spanish planes this Sunday to fight the fires in Portugal, having activated the European Civil Protection Mechanism to help Portugal fight destructive forest fires,” as residents evacuated their homes in danger zones.

“Portugal activated the European Civil Protection Mechanism to request emergency assistance for fires in the central part of the country,” the EU community executive said in a statement. “As an immediate response, the European Commission mobilized this morning two Canadair firefighting planes from its fleet located in Spain”, they said.

These two amphibious planes join the 60 that make up the Special Fire Fighting Device and began operating this Sunday, the Ministry of Internal Administration added in a press release. Conditions eased on Monday, but the fire risk remains high.

As of Sunday, an estimated 3,000 firefighters were working to extinguish the blazes, Portugal’s civil protection agency said, with areas along the outskirts of Lisbon the hardest hit. At least 29 people have been injured since the fires broke out, local authorities said Sunday.

At the time weather experts in Portugal said temperatures of up to 113° Fahrenheit (45° C) could be reported from today in the Alentejo – between Lisbon and the Algarve, according to Sky News. Strong winds of 40 miles per hour are also predicted across several regions increasing the fire risk. Local media reported Monday that fires in the districts of Santarém, Leiria and Vila Real were “the most worrying. The revised potential high of 47° later in the week applies to 133 municipalities at maximum fire risk.

Last month, a historic heat wave across Europe broke records in France and Spain, where temperatures reached as high as 104 degrees, unusual for the month of June. This follows on from one of the driest winters on record.

The Washington Post reports that scientists have long warned that climate change is extending the “wildfire season” in Portugal from two to five months. In 2017, more than 100 people died following blazes that led to widespread condemnation of the government’s response to forest fires. Some emergency workers complained of a lack of equipment, while others said the forests were not properly managed or protected.

The current nationwide state of emergency means people are barred from forest areas deemed high risk and that farmers are asked not to use any type of machinery that may cause a spark.

COVID-19 in Madeira: updates can be found in an earlier post

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1 thought on “Mainland declares extreme fire risk”

  1. As you say it has been a very dry winter throughout the winter, and experts have been forecasting the fire risks as soon as temperatures rose. They were, however, not predicting that they would rise so high – we now have a perfect storm!

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