Image: Lusa

More than 1,000 firefighters battle through night in Ourém and Mafra

Fires break out on Sunday afternoon in various parts of country

UPDATE: Ourém fire on Monday morning classified as ‘dominated’

Sunday afternoon’s high temperatures saw fires break out in various parts of the central and northern region, posing new challenges for exhausted firefighters.

At 10.30 last night over 1,000 men and women from several fire stations were still battling flames in the worst-hit areas in boroughs of Ourém and Mafra.

Ironically, the Ourém blaze flared up close to an area that was on fire only a month ago. As it began, concerns were for the safety of a nearby village (Ramalheira); bathers were evacuated from a river beach.

At roughly the same time (3.30pm), the Mafra fire was beginning which went on to develop along two fronts, albeit hopes last night were that firefighting was “going favourably”.

In total the end of Sunday saw 18 active blazes underway, involving 1,344 firefighters and 388 vehicles/appliances.

The ministry of internal administration has said that a ‘special state of alert’ for wildfires will come into force on Tuesday in the districts of Vila Real, Bragança, Guarda and Viseu – leading to the drafting in to those areas of extra GNR agents and members of the Armed Forces.

Interior minister José Luís Carneiro added that a ‘re-evaluation’ of the country’s fire risk situation will be made on Wednesday.

Roughly 120 boroughs in the interior north and centre of the country are at maximum risk of rural fires today, while the whole region of the Algarve and almost all the Alentejo are at ‘elevated risk of wildfires’.

Talking to reporters via videolink last night, minister Carneiro had a word for the extraordinary efforts of populations affected by these blazes. Notwithstanding the tireless work of firefighters, Civil Protection and town councils, every day citizens have shown real solidarity, he said, “in the way they have reacted to these difficult moments”.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com