New forest fires follow mercury spike in Portugal

A huge forest fire broke out near Mafra, north of Lisbon, on Sunday. According to the Civil Defense, temperatures have risen sharply this weekend, especially in the north and center of the country.

The brush fire, about forty kilometers north of Lisbon, was being fought by the end of the afternoon by about 400 specialists and five aviation assets, the civil defense said.

As the fire spread to nearby forests, residents tried to slow the fire’s progress by watering their gardens. A nursing home with 30 residents was evacuated as a precaution, a civil defense commander told Renaissance Radio.

Other major outbreaks mobilized more than a thousand firefighters in northern and central Portugal. In Orem (center), a river beach was evacuated for barricades, according to a relief official quoted by Lusa Agency.

Above 40 degrees

Part of northern and central Portugal has been warned of a “steep rise in temperature” this weekend, above 40 degrees Celsius, especially in the center, and until at least Tuesday, the Portuguese Meteorological Agency said.

Interior Minister Jose Luis Carneiro indicated Sunday evening that plans were to “issue a red alert on Tuesday” for the “Districts of Vila Real, Bragança, Garda and Visu” due to the high risk of fire.

Portugal, rocked by 2017 fires that killed more than a hundred people, has already been hit by a series of fires fueled by extreme temperatures in early July. Since the beginning of the year, more than 58,000 hectares have become smoke zones, according to data, still provisional, from the Institute for Nature and Forest Conservation (ICNF).

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