Portugal enters wildfire “Situation of Alert” from midnight tonight

With stultifying temperatures forecast to continue into the weekend, the ministries for interior administration and environment have ‘declared a situation of alert’ for the entire country from midnight tonight.

For now, it is due to run until midnight on Sunday.

The decision has been prompted by the fact that 10 Portuguese districts are now on a special red alert. They are Viana do Castelo, Braga, Vila Real, Bragança, Viseu, Guarda, Castelo Branco, Santarém, Porto and Aveiro.

The remaining districts of Beja, Évora, Coimbra, Faro (meaning the whole Algarve), Leiria, Lisboa, Portalegre and Setúbal are on orange alert.

Both states of alerts mean that “special and preventative measures” to prevent wildfires must be kept in place bearing in mind the risk of “catastrophic fires” breaking out is “very elevated”, and likely to stay this way until Monday at least.

These measures include:

  • Keeping out of forest areas. This means no walks/ hikes/ bike rides/ picnics or anything else, even on rural (dirt track) paths and roads through forested areas.
  • A ban on any activity involving fire
  • A ban on any kind of fireworks
  • A ban on the use of any kind of machinery in forest and rural areas.

Says the dispatch released by the ministries, this level of alert means GNR and PSP agents will be on special standby, with numbers beefed for vigilance and patrols ‘to raise awareness’ among communities. Emergency services and forestry sappers will be equally ‘at the ready’, as well as the National Corporation of Forestry Agents and Nature Vigilantes working for the ICNF (forestry commission), All leave/ holidays has had to be cancelled to ensure as many boots possible are ‘on the ground’. 

Beyond land-based preparations, Air Force planes will be drafted in to check on all districts on red alert.

[email protected]