Fire ravages 500 hectares of Serra da Estrela natural park

As many as 500 firemen were dispatched to the natural park of Serra da Estrela over the weekend to fight two blazes which, though extinguished within 24 hours, registered “strong repeat flare-ups over ensuing days”. Over 500 hectares of protected forest land has been damaged, as the country remains in the grip of Phase Charlie seasonal fire alert. This far, the worst damage has been in the north and centre.

José Manuel Biscaia, president of the borough of Manteigas that lies within the natural park, has been hugely critical of the park’s fire prevention policy, saying: “We can see things are just not right. What is needed (in future) is a very concrete intervention”.

Despite the numbers sent to the park to battle the flames, most of the fire-fighting was done from the air given that the blazes were in the more mountainous areas, with inclinations of between 80-90%, say reports.

With dampening down operations continuing today, the worst hit areas in Portugal are those of Porto and Santarém.

This far, fires that have flared up in the Algarve have all been dealt with fairly quickly.