A 50-year-old woman reported to have seen firefighters at work in Coimbra and been “fascinated” by the whole spectacle of flames as they raged out of control has been arrested in Castelo Branco for the “presumed practice” of arson.
According to Correio da Manhã the woman is a “true pyromaniac”.
She is believed to have told police that she was so fascinated by what she had witnessed in Coimbra, that she “wanted to see it all again, but closer to home”.
The blaze she is alleged to have started with a cigarette lighter on ‘land comprising dry pasture and pine trees’ is one of a number that raged uncontrollably on Sunday.
The woman also is one of 40 people arrested so far this year for the suspected crime of arson.
She is due to appear in court, either later today or tomorrow.
Meantime, today (Wednesday) sees smoke from the horror of Portugal’s wildfires reaching southern coastal areas while serious blazes are still in force in the districts of Castelo Branco, Portalegre and Santarém.
As many as a thousand people have had to be evacuated from outlying villages encircled by flames while the situation in other southern countries is also critical.
The BBC led today on forest fires in St Tropez and Corsica, while Euronews explains that the number of major blazes this year “have trebled” – and we are still nowhere near the end of the southern region’s ‘fire risk season’.
The news service stated: “There have been 677 blazes in 2017 – a huge increase on the 215 the bloc saw annually on average over the previous eight years.
“Experts have blamed climate change for the rise, saying it has extended the traditional wildfire season and increased the frequency of blazes.
“They have warned Europe’s forest fires will rage more often in the future and engulf new areas.
“Portugal, Italy and Croatia have battled blazes in recent days amid high temperatures and lower-than-normal rainfall”.
To follow the situation nationally, access fogos.pt, or join the Facebook group: ‘Alerta de Incéndio Florestal/ Forest Fire Alert!’ which posts in English.