Status: 07/11/2022 10:51 a.m
There is a heat wave in Portugal, temperatures up to 43 degrees are expected. Forests considered particularly endangered were closed to the public. The third highest state of emergency applies throughout the country.
Portugal, which was largely spared from forest fires in the summer, is now being hit by a heat wave and dozens of fires. Civil defense said 36 forest fires were active across the country. According to various estimates, between 2,000 and 2,500 hectares of forest have been destroyed in the popular holiday destination in the past few days. This corresponds to an area of around 2800 to 3500 football pitches.
Because of the increased risk of forest fires, the third highest state of emergency has been in effect throughout the country since midnight, as the government in Lisbon announced at the weekend. It should be valid until Friday.
“Very serious deterioration” of the situation
As early as June, 96 percent of the country was classified as suffering from severe or extreme drought. The risk of forest fires is favored by a drought that has lasted for weeks and has dried up nature. In addition, there is a heat wave with temperatures sometimes exceeding 40 degrees, which began on Saturday and will last at least until Thursday.
Forests considered to be particularly endangered were closed to the public, the use of heavy agricultural equipment and fireworks were banned because of the risk of fire.
Prime Minister António Costa postponed a planned visit to Mozambique this week. His office explained that the weather forecasts indicated a “very serious deterioration” in the situation with regard to the risk of fire in rural areas. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa also postponed a planned trip to New York to the UN Economic and Social Council.
EU sends firefighting planes
The situation is worst in Ourém and Pombal in the center and in Ribeira da Pena in the north of the country. The three currently largest forest fires were raging there, reported the state TV broadcaster RTP. A total of around 1,000 members of the fire brigade, civil defense and police are deployed there. More than 700 of them in Ourém, where some houses and animals have already fallen victim to the flames.
At Portugal’s request, the EU mobilized its fleet of fire-fighting aircraft as part of the Civil Protection Mechanism to help the country fight the forest fires. According to the EU Commissioner for Crisis Protection, Janez Lenarcic, Spain immediately sent two fire-fighting planes to its Iberian neighbor. Portugal uses another 60.