Several cities are under fire. A fire broke out in the municipality of Covilha on Saturday. An entire natural park burned down.
At least 3,000 hectares of vegetation has caught fire in a forest fire in a natural park in Portugal. According to preliminary information from local authorities, four firefighters were injured in Serra da Estrela, in the center of the country. Several cities are under fire. A fire broke out in the municipality of Covilha on Saturday. Meanwhile, firefighters are battling a “monster” fire in the French region of Landeras.
At the start of the week, wildfires in Portugal initially seemed to be under control – but they erupted again on Tuesday afternoon. About 1,000 firefighters are battling the flames. The Serra da Estrela Natural Park is located in the highest region of mainland Portugal, with the highest peaks reaching nearly 2,000 meters above sea level. Environmental protection organization Quercus fears that the fires will lead to a significant loss of biodiversity.
Like many other countries bordering the Mediterranean, Portugal is experiencing an exceptional drought this year. The National Meteorological Institute recorded the warmest July in more than 100 years. According to figures from the ICNF Institute for Nature Conservation, 70,000 hectares of vegetation have caught fire since the beginning of the year.
Forest fires in France are affecting an area close to the heart of the grape-growing region of Bordeaux. “I would classify the fire in Landeras as a massive fire,” Gregory Alloni of the French Fire Brigade Association FNSPF told RTL radio. “It’s a beast, a beast.” Forest fires broke out in the Gironde region this week, destroying homes and evacuating some 10,000 residents. Some residents had to be rescued from their rooftops because the flames were so close.
Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne wanted to visit the Gironde during the day to get an overview. In view of the intense heat and extreme drought, several fires have recently erupted in France and other European countries. More than 6,800 hectares of forest have been burned. Authorities have warned that temperatures will remain very high until Saturday. The area was hit hard in July. At that time, more than 20 thousand hectares of forests were destroyed, and almost 40 thousand people were forced to evacuate their homes at times.
The fire brigades are also working from Austria
France is receiving European support in the fight against violent wildfires on the Atlantic coast. The European Commission has sent four firefighting planes to France via the European Civil Protection Mechanism, which was previously stationed in Greece and Spain, the Brussels authorities announced, Thursday. In addition, fire brigades from Austria, Germany, Poland and Romania are on their way to France to support the French forces. “Our partners are helping France,” said President Emmanuel Macron. “European solidarity works”.
“The spread in French forest fire regions once again shows the international appreciation of the expertise of Austrian fire brigades,” said Interior Minister Gerhard Karner (ÖVP). On Thursday evening, the first part of a unit of the Lower Austria State Fire Association was moved to the Bordeaux region, and the second part will follow by air on Friday. The intended duration of use is several days. Deputy Governor Stefan Pernkopf (ÖVP) asserted that “this summer of drought has put the whole of Europe in its fist”.
The fire brigade also responded to a large forest fire on the Greek island of Thassos on Thursday. The village had to be evacuated. In the morning, the fire department announced the deployment of six firefighting planes, six helicopters, hundreds of firefighters, volunteers and military units to stop the fires. The island located in the north of the Aegean Sea is full of forests. Local media reported that thick clouds of smoke could be seen from afar in the morning. The island’s mayor, Lefteris Kyriakides, said on state radio that no one had been hurt so far.
A fire also broke out on Thursday near the Italian port of Trieste in the Duino region. The authorities said that due to the intense fire, the motorway exit towards Trieste was closed. The closure was necessary to allow firefighters to extinguish the fire. A helicopter was also operating. It is actually the fifth major fire to occur in the karst region in the past three weeks. To date, more than 500 hectares of forest have been destroyed. Investigators suspect arson. In the past few weeks, fires in Friuli-Venezia Giulia have disrupted regional rail traffic and the A4 (Venice – Trieste) motorway.
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