Photo: BRUNO FILIPE PIRES/OPEN MEDIA

“Prepare for worst”: Marcelo predicts “very difficult year” for wildfires

Citizens have till April 30 to clear land of combustible material

President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has called on citizens to prepare for wildfires this summer, predicting it will be “a very difficult year”.

“There are no institutions that can succeed (in preventing fires) if the Portuguese don’t join in,” he stressed, calling on people to “start in the winter to work for the summer.”

Marcelo was speaking in Mafra, at the end of the presentation of Operation Safe Forest that the GNR will be carrying out between February 1 and November 30.

He explained his prediction about this year is based on two elements: “information we have at European level (which) goes in that direction (…) and because six years have passed since the (killer) fires of 2017, and those who know these cycles know that in terms of accumulation of fuel (combustible material on the ground/ dead trees etc.) this makes this year a more complicated year than 2022, 2021, 2020”.

Thus the stories today explaining how “checking” of properties by the GNR (to see if landowners have satisfactorily ‘cleared’ land of combustible material, pruned back any trees encroaching near properties) will be starting on May 1.

Correio da Manhã recalls that fines for not doing the necessary work start at €140, reaching as high as €5,000 for individuals, or €800 to €60,000 for ‘collectives’ (businesses).

The approach is that people are checked in the spring, notified if they haven’t done what is required, and then be checked a second time (up until October 31). If they haven’t undertaken the work they are informed needs doing, then they will face fines.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com