Fires continue to devastate Portugal

By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]

July was the worst month for fires in Portugal since 2005, with 5,524 registered across the country.

August so far is also causing concern, with the number of fires reported increasing every day (see Algarve Resident August 6 edition).

It is estimated that more than 15 million Euros of damage has been caused to date.

Pedro Serra Ramos, president of the National Association of Forestry Companies (ANEFA), said: “The recovery will be slow. It can take hundreds of years to have our forests full of tress again.

“The Portuguese government has not invested one single Euro in the recovery of forest in the last four years.”

He added: “The annual forest fund of 30 million Euros has not been invested by the government in planting trees or cleaning the forests.”

On Wednesday this week, more than 1,300 fire fighters were battling more than 30 active fires in the country, supported by 366 vehicles.

Viana do Castelo district was worst affected, with six active fires at the time. It has been the most affected area in the country this summer.

São Pedro do Sul, in Viseu, registered the largest fire to date, which destroyed 3,000 to 4,000 hectares before being brought under control on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, three fire fighters have died combating the fires in the north and the central regions of the country.

The latest victim of the fires died on Tuesday. A Portuguese woman, aged 21, was caught in a fire at Monte Meda in the municipality of Gondomar.

High temperatures are also proving to be a major difficulty in fighting the fires.

According to the Institute of Meteorology (IM), the high temperatures will remain at an average of 30 degrees in the coming week, but are expected to fall soon.

Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]