Extreme and persistent heat is also currently plaguing Portugal, and the country is also being hit by large-scale forest fires. The greatest concerns are currently Aveiro in the north, Leiria in the center, Setúbal and Faro in the south. Prime Minister Costa is therefore extending the state of emergency that applies throughout the country.
In Portugal, numerous forest fires give many residents and emergency services no respite. This Thursday, eleven major fires were active in different parts of the popular holiday country, according to the civil defense (ANEPC). A total of around 1,900 emergency services fought the fires.
Fires in Aveiro in the north and in Leiria in the center of the country, in Setúbal about 50 kilometers south of Lisbon and in Faro in the south were the greatest concerns. "The whole country is on fire," was the headline in the Jornal de Notícias newspaper.
Prime Minister António Costa announced on Thursday that the third highest state of emergency ("Estado de contingência") that has been in force throughout Portugal since Monday will be extended up to and including Sunday. There is also a heat wave at the moment, which led to temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius on Wednesday.
The heat wave in western Europe "affects Spain and Portugal in particular, but is expected to intensify and spread," said a spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva on Wednesday. According to scientists, climate change is causing more frequent and more intense heat waves.
What does the state of emergency mean for the population, but also for tourists? For example, you are not allowed to light campfires in the forest. Staying in forests is restricted. Fireworks are also not allowed to be set off. In addition to a drought that has been going on for months, the spread of the fires is also partly favored by strong winds, according to ANEPC. The authorities assured that quite a few fires were set negligently or intentionally. There have already been arrests.
The official preliminary balance of the most recent fires after six days: at least 130 people injured, two of them seriously. According to figures from the nature conservation authority INCF, the area destroyed since Saturday is approaching the 100 square kilometer mark. The flames destroyed homes, factories and a golf course.