Air Force plane keeps wildfires at bay over 48-nail-biting hours

An Air Force transport plane fitted with heat-seeking equipment made ‘all the difference’ last weekend flying round the country, alerting firefighters to situations that could otherwise have quickly developed into forest fires.

The result: a nail-biting weekend with all the ingredients for new disasters went ahead without any major incidents.

According to Diário de Notícias, the C-295 plane attached to Montijo’s 502 squadron “prevented several outbreaks of fire from gaining the dimension that could have translated into complicated situations for firefighters in a period in which Portugal continued under elevated temperatures”.

The 48-hour patrols “detected people lighting bonfires and other prohibited activities”, said the paper, and kept a close watch on ‘hot spots’ (“areas with heightened potential for re-ignitions”).

The mission went ahead “in articulation with the ministries of Defence and Agriculture and with the (newly appointed) structure that is headed up by forest fire expert Tiago Martins da Oliveira (click here).

Meantime, restrictions on any kind of activities that could spark forest fires have been extended to the end of the month, in the hope that rain is on the way and temperatures will start to fall.

Questioned as to whether Air Force patrols will continue, a source for the Ministry of Internal Administration said that “risk assessments” are permanently ongoing, and all measures considered necessary will be taken.

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