Air Force overflies forests as thousands on patrol look out for fires

With major fires raging today in the district of Aveiro -forcing the temporary closure of two motorways – the Air Force has started overflying forested areas while thousands of police are patrolling over 66,000 sq kms.

The mission began on Thursday and will continue until at least Sunday, and possibly into next week due to recent weather warnings.

Said a communiqué issued by GNR police yesterday, the air patrols are in constant touch with boots on the ground.

In total 1200 patrols involving 2,393 agents were employed yesterday (Thursday), including regular police, criminal investigators, environmental police and emergency response GIPS.

As a result eight individuals were ‘identified’ (meaning received police warnings), two others were caught red-handed setting light to an isolated area, and one woman was discovered using a strimmer incorrectly to clean land which caused a small forest fire that raged over 14,000 sq metres, damaging crops, before being brought under control.

In the borough of Albergaria-a-Velha – where a major fire is still causing concern – a 64-year-old man was found to have used a lighter to provoke a forest fire. He too was arrested “in flagrante”.

Meantime, hundreds of firefighters are tackling the blazes which have seen authorities evacuate a number of householders.

Despite the rising heat, the rest of the country is mercifully clear of major fires today, though the risk is elevated in almost every area.

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