Fire season opens with only third of planes and helicopters in place
With the hot weather starting, Portugal is entering its summer ‘fire season’ with only a third of the planes and helicopters it needs to fight disasters in place.
Media reports stress that the deal to hire 28 Italian choppers through private contract (to avoid cartel-type behaviour of national firms) fell through because the company needed to sub-contract from competitors with links to one of the Portuguese ‘cartel’ firms.
The government has admitted delays, but says contracts will be complied with – while television commentators have stressed that despite this hiccup, the country is ‘better prepared’ for wildfires today than it has been for years.
In simple terms, as of today – the so-called lowest fire risk phase which runs from May 15 to 31, should have seen 32 helicopters operational for the whole country. Instead there are only 13.