Fires brought under control in Portugal, but the situation remains “serious”

Fires under control in Portugal, but situation remains « serious


LISBON | Firefighters in Portugal managed on Monday to contain two forest and brush fires that had been raging for several days in the center of the country, still on alert due to the scorching temperatures expected until the end of the week.< /strong> 

“There is no significant active fire at the moment” but “the situation is serious and exceptional”, declared the national commander of civil protection, André Fernandes, during a press briefing at midday. /p>

The fires of the last few days have caused 27 minor injuries among the firefighters, the gendarmerie and the population. The emergency services also assisted 41 people on the spot, most of them residents affected by the smoke.

Seven houses and two agricultural structures were destroyed or damaged by the flames, it was reported learned from the same source.

The most worrying outbreak was declared on Thursday in the municipality of Ourém, 130 km north of Lisbon, and continued to mobilize some 600 firefighters after ravaging around 2,000 hectares of vegetation.

L he fire that started on Friday in the neighboring municipality of Pombal, devastating an area of ​​560 hectares, was also fixed on Monday morning, while nearly 300 firefighters remained hard at work to prevent its reactivation.

Another blaze ravaged 2,800 hectares of forest and brush between Thursday and Saturday near Carrazeda de Ansiães, in a more isolated region of the district of Bragança (Northeast).

The respite granted to firefighters Monday is likely to be short-lived, as Portugal has been hit since Thursday by scorching temperatures that are expected to increase in the coming days.

The yellow alert issued Monday by the Portuguese meteorological institute will turn orange from Tuesday, with temperatures returning well above 40 degrees, even 45 degrees in places.

Most of the country will also experience “tropical nights”, with minimum temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius.

“We are going to experience maximum risk conditions in the coming days. The slightest inattention can cause a fire of significant proportions,” Prime Minister Antonio Costa warned.

The government has thus decreed a “state of contingency” between Monday and Friday, in order to raise a notch the level of mobilization of the emergency services and the restrictions they can impose.

Lisbon has also asked the European Union to activate its common civil protection mechanism, obtaining on Sunday sending two water bomber planes stationed in Spain.

“Today the country is better prepared” than in 2017, when forest fires killed more than a hundred people , however, assured Monday the head of the socialist government who canceled a trip to Mozambique to follow the situation as closely as possible.