wildfire in Portugal

‘For now’ no state of alert declared due to wildfires – government

But in south, Odemira fire is spreading east fanned by strong winds

Portugal’s minister of internal administration has said this morning that “for now” the government will not declare an alert due to rural fires, taking into account the response by forces already working on the ground and meteorological conditions.

“Either because of the response of the (teams), or because of the number of fires, or because of the change that seems to be positive in the movement of winds – and also because there has been, from yesterday to today, a relative replacement of nocturnal humidity, for now the alert situation will not be ordered,” minister José Luís Carneiro told reporters.

Mr Carneiro, who was speaking at a news conference to take stock of the security operation around World Youth Day (WYD), which ended on Sunday in Lisbon, also took the view that resources and teams on the ground to fight fires are “showing efficiency” at the moment.

The force is, he said, “managing to demonstrate its ability to respond to fires, although we have had two large fires and a larger burned area” – a reference to the fires in Proença-a-Nova (in Castelo Branco district) and Ourém (in Santarém).

Yesterday, secretary of state for civil protection Patrícia Gaspar said that the government was considering declaring an alert situation due to the high danger of rural fires in the coming days, with a difficult meteorological backdrop expected – constituted by higher than normal temperatures and relatively low humidity.

News that for now it isn’t, may come as a surprise down south where citizens in Aljezur are watching the Odemira fire increase in area and intensity, with a mixture of shock and trepidation. Villa management businesses are desperately trying to keep abreast of the news to calm the nerves of visiting holidaymakers, as well as concerns of absent homeowners, as winds are blowing clothes and linen clean off washing lines, powercuts are intermittent, sirens of police and fire vehicles are constant, and water supplies to the north of the municipality are being affected by fire combat

Very little right now points in the direction of anything ‘showing efficiency’, other than the force of the wind and the combustion power of the fires themselves. ND