August marred by forest fires

In the last 15 days of August, forest fires in Portugal consumed an area of around 63,200 hectares, more than double the area affected by fire in the last seven and a half months. According to data from the Portuguese Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF) released in early September, the numbers show an increase of 25% of the affected area in the first six months of 2013 compared to the same period last year.

The sixth ICNF’s provisional report on forest fires also showed that forest fires in the first two thirds of the year consumed a total area of 94,155 hectares, whilst in the previous report, which was revealed by mid-August, the affected area was of around 31,000 hectares.

So far, 94,155 hectares were lost to the flames, the equivalent of 11 times the size of Lisbon.

According to the ICNF, there were more than 14,000 fires in the first six months of 2013, which affected mostly woods and forests (61,150 hectares).

“Comparing this year’s numbers to the previous 10 years, it is clear that there were 15% less incidents compared to the average of the last decade, as well as a drop of 20% in the area affected during that same period,” said the report, which also stressed that the month of August accounted for around 52% of the total number of fires.