Weekend on tenterhooks as firefighters turn corner on Portugal’s blazes
Image: Paulo Novais/ Lusa

Weekend on tenterhooks as firefighters turn corner on Portugal’s blazes

“We cannot drop our guard”, warns Civil Protection

With only one active fire at time of writing, in Baião, Porto district, Civil Protection has warned “we cannot drop our guard”.

This weekend will be one of “heightened vigilance”, constant patrolling of fires that have been extinguished but remain with hotspots.

For now, the situation is looking much calmer.

The Situation of Contingency remains in place until midnight on Sunday, meaning no activities in forested areas, no use of agricultural machinery – no risk taking of any kind that could re-ignite the parched landscapes.

It may be that the decision is made to extend the ban further, but this will only be announced tomorrow.

Giving a round-up this morning, Civil Protection commander André Fernandes recalled that in just eight days, the country’s firefighting teams were called out to 1,177 ‘ignitions’. Just this morning up to midday saw another 28.

“The drought has worsened and we are on a threshold where any ignition can lead to a major fire. We have felt the collaboration of the population, and everything is easier”, he admitted. But it has to remain “a weekend of extreme vigilance, because there may be reactivation of any of the large fires of the last few days, which are many, covering extensive areas”.

Commander Fernandes had his own message of condolence for the tragic death last night of a firefighting pilot, saying: “We lost one of our own, an aerial firefighter. The feeling of all of us is of loss. We will honour (him) with all our will and operational capacity”.

As for climatic conditions, these remain very hot everywhere – albeit less so than last week – with a great deal less wind.