Everjet helicopter “falls from sky” as Portugal battered by fires

It has been a devastating weekend for wildfires, with 240 separate blazes reported on Saturday, and as many as 100 reported today.

But as the country’s emergency services battle it out, one pilot and five GIPS GNR agents (specialist intervention police) who had been helping fight a fire in Valença escaped death when their Ecureil AS-350 B3 Everjets support chopper dived for the ground.

“Help us, we’re going down”, came the emergency call yesterday afternoon as the team was due to refuel near Miranda, Arcos de Valdevez, and return to the blaze.
Local fire chief Filipe Guimarães explained, “the nose went directly for the ground”.

A second chopper, also fire fighting, went instantly to the downed crew’s aid and miraculously only the pilot and one of the agents was hurt.

But the dangers of fires continue, with very high temperatures in some areas and as many as 100 separate blazes reported as ongoing this morning.

According to sea and atmosphere institute IPMA temperatures could reach 40ºC in some areas due to a mass of hot, dry air from the Spanish interior and North Africa – and as we reported earlier last week, the country weather severity index (used to describe risk conditions for forest fires) is now higher than it was during 2003, 2004 and 2013 – years considered catastrophic in terms of areas burnt by wildfires that went totally out of control.

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Photo: Nelson Garrido