Environment

Early-season wildfires burning in northern Portugal


Wildfires are burning in northern Portugal fueled by strong winds and unexpectedly high temperatures (28 °C / 82.4 °F) several months before expected. Wildfire alert was issued Tuesday evening, March 26, prohibiting farmers from using slash-and-burn methods, requiring employers to authorize absences for workers who serve as volunteer firefighters, and placing more police forces on standby to act in case of an emergency.

Authorities said the weather conditions resemble those that caused a devastating wildfire in Pedrogao Grande in June 2017, killing 64 people and injuring more than 250 – the worst disaster in the modern history of Portugal.

“We are having significant fire outbreaks in areas where we didn’t know the risk was high,” Miguel Miranda, president of the Portuguese Institute of Meteorology (IPMA), said, as reported by TSF and Reuters. “We are in unexplored territory, we have never been through this.”

Ten fires were burning across the county on Wednesday, March 27, most in the country’s north, Reuters reports.

The most aggressive wildfire has been raging in the municipality of Oliviera de Azmeis on March 26 with 450 firefighters on the ground.

Another wildfire in the district of Esposende forced authorities to evacuate two schools due to high levels of smoke.

In terms of fire risks, most of the eastern Algarve has been placed on the highest alert, with the western Algarve on red alert.

Wildfires are also affecting neighboring Galicia, Spain and parts of NW Italy this week.

Featured image: Wildfire between Marinhas and Vila Cha, Portugal on March 26, 2019. Credit: ESA/Sentinel-2, TW

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