Portugal struggles with relentless fires

Portugal has been struggling with a wave of relentless fires which have been affecting both mainland and insular territories, due mostly to the dry and extreme temperatures of August.

At the time of the Algarve Resident going to press, fire-fighting forces were attempting to tame five different fronts in Viseu and Viana do Castelo, which are among some of the worst affected areas.

Tallying up the results presented by the national civil protection authority (ANPC), there were 1,980 fires active between August 13 and 20, which led to the deployment of over 4,000 fire-fighters and 1,000 vehicles per day.

The gravity of the situation led the Ministry of Internal Administration to request the assistance of two Spanish Canadair planes in their efforts to control the flames (also see other story on this page). It was also reported in the Portuguese press that the government also made an appeal to receive support from two more French aircrafts for the period between August 25 and 31.

One of the most devastating outbreaks of fires began last Friday (August 16) in Funchal, Madeira, and was only deemed to be under control at the beginning of this week.

The blazes even led the Funchal municipal authority to activate its Municipal Emergency Plan for a period of two days, and authorities were forced to evacuate dozens of residents from their homes and nearly 200 patients from the Marmeleiros Hospital in the parish of Monte.

In the Algarve, smaller wild fires were reported in the areas of Alcantarilha and São Brás.