Portugal has been plagued by heat wave and forest fires

Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2022 at 8:57 PM

As many as 2,800 firefighters mobilized on Sunday to try to end a series of wildfires that have swept Portugal, as scorching temperatures prompted the government to step up relief mobilization by issuing a “state of emergency”.

The largest outbreak of the disease since Thursday was in the Orem (central) region and alone mobilized nearly 700 firefighters.

“The fire reached 50 meters from the last house in the village (…) Everything was burnt,” Donzelia Marquez told AFP, pointing to the hills between the village of Travisa de El Majadil where she lives and the town near Frexianda.

Having been evacuated from her home the night before, this 76-year-old retired was able to return to it Sunday morning, relieved to discover that no home was damaged there.

According to preliminary estimates, the fire, which would have destroyed at least 1,500 hectares of vegetation, destroyed at least two homes, according to emergency services, which reported other temporary evacuations of villages threatened by the fire.

The last fire ignited the crowd of 450 firefighters since Friday, a few kilometers away, after declaring itself in the municipality of Pombal, also located at the confluence of the provinces of Leiria and Santarém.

The fires of the past few days have caused about forty minor injuries among firefighters and residents, but most of the victims were immediately treated for symptoms of intoxication or exhaustion, according to a report provided by the national commander Sunday night. Civil Protection, Andre Fernandez.

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– ‘Extreme peak weather’ –

Mr. Fernandez stressed that for the third day in a row, peacekeepers had to deal with more than a hundred fires that broke out across the country, while the “peak of extreme weather” was still to come.

Thermometers have already reached 44 degrees Celsius in some places, and the Portuguese Meteorological Institute expects temperatures to continue to rise until the middle of next week.

After this “extremely dangerous” weekend, according to Prime Minister Antonio Costa, who canceled a trip to Mozambique to monitor the situation as closely as possible, the Portuguese government has therefore decided to declare a “state of emergency” between Monday and Friday, to raise the level of mobilization of emergency services and the restrictions that can be to impose it.

Lisbon also asked the European Union to activate its Common Civil Protection Mechanism, and to get two seaplanes sent to Spain.

While Interior Minister Jose Luis Carneiro said Portugal faced its “worst combination of factors” since the June-October 2017 fires, which killed more than a hundred people, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa argued that the level of emergency preparedness was “unmatchable”. . “.

The fires that multiply all over the world are linked to various phenomena that scientists expect due to global warming. An increase in temperature, a doubling of heat waves and a decrease in precipitation in places is an ideal combination for the development of fires.

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