Portugal in State of Alert due to Heatwave and Wildfires
Portugal has been placed in a state of alert as the country endures the third heatwave of the summer. The alert came into place at midnight on Sunday night and is due to last until Tuesday.
Minister of Internal Administration, José Luís Carneiro, announced the alert for mainland Portugal due to the increased risk of wildfires.
In a statement he said, ‘We took the decision to determine the alert situation for the 21st, 22nd and 23rd – Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, with a reassessment on Monday at the end of the day, with a view to reassessing the need to maintain or change the situation alert. This whole circumstance applies to the mainland.’
The announcement was made following a meeting of the National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority (ANEPC), in Carnaxide, Oeiras.
People in Portugal were issued with text messages following the decision to impose the alert warning them of limitations now in place in relation to lighting fires, the use of machinery, agricultural work and access to forest spaces.
The Minister highlighted the risk factors that led to the determination of the alert situation saying that temperatures could reach in the order of or above 40º and that winds may vary in strength from 40 and 60 km/hour.
The prevalence of severe and extreme drought in a large part of the country and fires, caused by the use of fire and for accidental reasons, were also highlighted.
Measures that have been taken to control the situation include deployment of Armed Forces patrols on the ground to reenforce the measures announced with the Minister saying, ‘Fighting arson is a priority given that it has increased particularly in the last three weeks.’
The National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority (ANEPC) was also authorized to reinforce firefighting by hiring another 500 firefighters.
Minister Carneiro stressed that 90% of fires have been put out in 90 minutes but said that, ‘ANEPC is authorized to proceed with the hiring of another 100 firefighter teams, which means another 500 men, with a view to strengthening human resources and allowing this replacement of resources to maintain the vigor and effectiveness that has existed until now.’
Government sources estimate that over 90,000 hectares of land have been burned so far this year in Portugal due to wildfires as heatwaves and droughts continue to plague the country.