Monday sees over 20 fires: six active; four in northern region ‘most worrying’

Another extremely hot day full of problems

Portugal’s civil protection recorded at midday today four forest fires warranting “most concern”, in the districts of Vila Real and Castelo Branco, mobilizing almost 1,000 firefighters, over 250 appliances and 11 fire fighting planes and helicopters.

In a statement from the headquarters of the National Authority for Emergency and Civil Protection (ANEPC), in Carnaxide, Oeiras, Civil Protection commander André Fernandes said 23 fires had been recorded today, six of which are active: four being the “most worrying”.

Three of the worst fires are in the district of Vila Real, Bustelo (Chaves), Murça and Vila Pouca de Aguiar, and Fundão (Castelo Branco).

André Fernandes recapped a little, recalling that July 13 (last Wednesday) was the day that registered the highest number of fires so far this year.

He also said the most significant occurrences of recent days – some of which began on July 7 – are being dealt with by “a significant number of resources for surveillance and aftermath clean-up operations”. These includes the fire in the Algarve that stormed into Quinta do Lago last week, as well as incidents in Guarda, Porto, Santarém, Leiria and Vila Real.

Meantime, adding to this year’s problems is the situation of drought.

Reports explain how numerous communities have described ‘firefighting without a drop of water available’.

Today, two communities in the borough of Montemor-o-Novo are reported to be having “difficulties with the delivery of water, due to the drought. Firefighters and the municipality are filling parish water deposits various times a day. One location (Santiago do Escoural) has required eight water deliveries (tank capacity 17,000 litres) in a single day. Solutions being investigated include the sinking of two boreholes – but as everyone is only too painfully aware, boreholes can run dry too.