Wildfire alert till next Monday: 2019 “has already seen over 1000 fires and three deaths”

Firefighters throughout the country are on ‘red-alert’ till Monday – with populations warned to be extra careful – as the combination of drought and rising temperatures has already seen significant wildfires in various parts of the country.

Says Público, 2019 has already registered over 1000 forest fires and three deaths’ – and we are nowhere near the ‘danger period’ of the summer.

Interior minister Eduardo Cabrita accepts this year will be a ‘challenge’, particularly if rainfall remains negligible.

Dams throughout the country are unseasonably low and the evening news is already featuring images of forests burning through the night.

Yesterday it was Bragança, today – as we write this text – website fogos.pt shows three major outbreaks further east around Braga and within the Peneda-Gerês natural park.

As part of the nationwide ‘alert’ all bonfires and land-burnings are prohibited.

Deaths so far this year have all followed agricultural ‘land-burnings’.

Said a statement from the agriculture ministry: “The government is accompanying the development of this operational situation and appeals to citizens to modify their behaviour to the meteorological conditions that have been amply publicised”.

Volunteer firefighters who work within the public sector have already been ‘released’ from day jobs to be ready to answer calls; the GNR and PSP police forces are on stand-by for the likelihood of emergencies and Civil Protection forest firefighters are on patrols of various areas.

Leaving the country to assist the ongoing cyclone relief effort in Mozambique yesterday, the country’s Civil Protection operational commander Duarte Costa told journalists: “We have response prepared, we have done our planning but the meteorological conditions haven’t helped and because of this it is very important that the response by the Portuguese people, which has up till this moment been fantastic, continues within the safety parameters to ensure the safety of everyone and their property”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com