Monday, August 08, 2016

After quiet early summer, 10 wildfires now raging across Portugal's forests

Portugal has been hit by 10 large wildfires that have forced the mobilization of 1,200 firefighters and 14 water-dropping aircraft, officials said Monday.

After having had one of the quietest early summers for the past 10 years, the country's national and civil protection authority said that fires were now raging in many central and southern areas.

The authority said there were suspicions that up to one third of the fires could have been ignited deliberately.

The majority of fires had started in the early hours of the morning, an unusual time for wildfires to break out on their own, the authority said.

It said a cocktail of high temperatures of over 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and possible arsonists roaming wooded areas had placed Portugal on the verge of matching the chaos experienced in 2003, 2005, 2010 and 2013 when it led Europe in surface area carbonized.

To make matters worse, fires raging in areas such as Guarda, Oporto and Aveiro were consuming forests that had barely had time to recover from previous conflagrations, it said.

Eight firefighters died combating flames in 2013.
 EFE
8/8/16

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