The persistent drought in southwestern Europe meant that this year we are dealing with a wave of dangerous fires. The end of the week turned out to be particularly difficult for firefighters from Portugal and France, where many hectares of land were on fire.
According to the data of the European Commission, the south of Europe is increasingly exposed to violent, unmanageable fires. This year, the fire has already spread to a large part of Greece, Italy and Spain, and since Thursday, Portugal and France are also fighting the element.
Houses on the line of fire
The biggest fire in Portugal rages near the town of Ourém in the central part of the country. The fire started on Thursday afternoon, and almost immediately spread to forests and farmland. Almost 500 firefighters supported by 120 combat vehicles went into action.
Santarém’s District Rescue Operations Command (CDOS) said Friday night that the biggest challenge is “protecting households that are in the line of fire.” The commander of the rescue operation, David Lobato, confirmed that six people were injured due to the element, but that their injuries were minor.
The element is also raging in northern Portugal. According to local media, the firing line in the Guarda District is 10 kilometers wide. About 300 firefighters are currently fighting fire. Large fires also broke out around the cities of Bragança and Aveiro.
Fighting by land and air
Firemen in France are also fighting fires. The flames appeared on Thursday evening near the village of Bordezac, but a strong wind caused it to spread rapidly. It was necessary to evacuate people in the area, including tourists
There are over 900 firefighters on site. On Thursday, 12 fire-fighting planes and two helicopters were dispatched to the site, and two more planes joined them on Friday morning. According to local authorities, 13 firefighters were slightly injured during the operation.
While the threat to inhabited areas has now passed, the fate of thousands of hectares of densely forested land is still at stake.
– This fire is far from extinct; in hard-to-reach areas there are fronts that we have not dealt with and that move freely – explained firefighter Eric Agrinier – It will be an endurance feat.
Record temperatures are to blame
According to the data collected under the Copernicus program, June 2022 was record hot. Experts warn that the situation in many countries will be increasingly dramatic. Heat waves bring with them not only the danger of heatstroke and overheating, but also exhausting droughts, which in turn increase the likelihood of fires breaking out.
PAP, CM Portugal, Copernicus
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / MIGUEL PEREIRA DA SILVA