Speaking at yesterday's press conference, José Luís Carneiro. Image: Lusa
Speaking at yesterday's press conference, José Luís Carneiro. Image: Lusa

Government calls for attention and caution in coming days due to high fire risk

Priority remains consolidation of Odemira fire

Portugal’s interior minister José Luís Carneiro has called for “attention and caution” over the next few days, given the very high risk of fire, stressing that the priority right now is to consolidate the follow-up to the Odemira fire.

“Despite these improvements in the last few hours, the framework is very demanding and we cannot relax,” he told a press conference at civil protection headquarters yesterday afternoon.

Humidity levels may have improved in recent days – especially at night (“which has contributed to a favourable evolution in the fight against fires”) but temperatures today and tomorrow are forecast to vacillate between 38º- 42º in some areas, bringing tropical nights (where temperatures do not fall below 25ºC), with winds in the order of 40 kms per hour. This will mean that two thirds of the country will remain at high risk of fire, he warned.

“This means that it is necessary to maintain all attention, all precautions, and that the recommendations for extreme caution in the use of fire and to avoid the use of agricultural and forestry machinery in places of special fire risk remain especially valid,” he added.

It remains unclear, in the context of these warnings, why a State of Alert is still anathema to the government – but perhaps it is about what calling such a situation might do to the country’s tourism prospects.

Regarding the Odemira fire, Mr Carneiro “stressed the fact that there were no fatalities and pointed out that on Monday 1,200 hectares were consumed in an hour, with the fire progressing two kilometres per hour”, writes Lusa.

“This shows the intensity, the violence, of these extreme fires that we are experiencing. The effort to consolidate the aftermath work will continue. In the coming days, we will maintain more than a thousand firefighters to stamp out and consolidate the cleaning up operations of this fire”.

Asked about allegations of ‘criminal origin’ in recent fires generally, the minister said that there are “several investigations underway”, in a cooperation of the National Republican Guard (GNR) and Judicial Police (PJ, also explaining that there has been a reinforcement of joint patrolling between the GNR and the Armed Forces, in several regions of the country where fire risks are considered highest.

Regarding requests, by the mayor of Odemira, for financial support for those who have suffered damages, the minister replied that the current priority is the consolidation of the cleaning up operations, Lusa adds.

“José Luís Carneiro also defended the decision not to declare the country on alert due to the fires, but insisted that this can be reviewed and that the risks that may justify it are under permanent evaluation”.

Source: LUSA