About 1,500 firefighters battled three forest and brush fires that have been burning for days in central and northern Portugal on Sunday.
“The fire came 50 meters from the last house in the village (…). Everything was burnt there,” Doncilia Marques told AFP, pointing to the hills between her hamlet of Travessa de Almocatel and the town of Freixianda, Ourém (centre). From her home the night before The evacuee, a 76-year-old retiree, was able to return home on Sunday morning and was relieved to find that no houses had been burned.The fire, which mobilized more than 700 peacekeepers on Sunday after destroying at least 1,500 hectares of vegetation, burned on Thursday, although civil defense said it destroyed at least two houses.
At least a dozen firefighters and nearly two dozen members of the public have been injured in the fires over the past few days, but most of the victims were treated at the scene for signs of intoxication or exhaustion. Not far from there, another fire that has mobilized 450 firefighters has been raging since Friday in the municipality of Pombal, located at the confluence of Leiria and Santarem districts.
In the words of Prime Minister Antonio Costa, who canceled a trip to Mozambique, Thursday’s fire in Caracada de Ances, in the Bracanza (northeast) region, is another hot spot this “high risk” weekend. Follow the situation as closely as possible.
The Portuguese government has decided to raise the alert level by declaring a “state of emergency” from Monday to Friday next week, and has asked the European Union to activate its common civil protection mechanism to send two water bombers stationed in Spain. “We are facing an almost unprecedented situation in terms of meteorology,” commented Andre Fernandez, national commander of civil protection, as more than 120 fires were recorded a day on Friday and Saturday.
Referring to temperatures that could reach 45 degrees Celsius, Interior Minister José Luis Carneiro, for his part, said Portugal was facing a “bad combination of factors” that had caused more than a hundred deaths since the fires in June and October 2017.
The increasing number of fires around the world is associated with a variety of events expected by scientists due to global warming. Rising temperatures, increased heat waves and reduced rainfall in places are a perfect combination for fire growth. The current heat wave is affecting a country where 28.4% of the land was in “severe drought” at the end of June, up from 1.4% a month ago.
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