More than 1,000 firefighters battled a blazing wildfire in Portugal that began on Monday. 32 people have been injured. Scorching temperatures in Portugal during the summer often lead to forest fires. The blaze that had been largely contained rekindled in some areas and continued to rage for three whole days, reports AP News.
Flames have been gradually brought under control
Cooler temperatures overnight had allowed authorities to bring the flames under control. 90% of the fire was contained in the Castelo Branco district, 200 kilometres (about 125 miles) northeast of the capital Lisbon. To ensure safety, the Civil Protection Agency retained its firefighting assets, including 318 vehicles, in the area in case the fire restarted.
The government of Portugal asked for assistance from Spain, its neighbour. They were scheduled to send over two water-dumping airplanes. A major cause for the fire has been the fact that the forest region has remained extremely dry due to a lack of rain.
Cause for the wildfires in Portugal
Police are also speculating that the fire may have been started deliberately. Huge wildfires have been a common annual occurrence in Portugal. Residents of smaller villages are used to the unruly flames that destroy fruit trees, olive trees and crops in the fields. Portugal’s deadliest fire took place in 2017 leading to the death of 106 people.
Between 2010 and 2016, the average annual area charred by wildfires in Portugal was just over 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres). Experts and authorities have identified multiple reasons that make Portugal vulnerable to forest blazes. Many people have moved from villages to cities which have led to the woodland being neglected. Forest debris is a major catalyst for forest fires.
Other countries have also battled wildfires in recent past
In the recent past, countries like Spain, Greece and Germany have also battled major wildfires. The European Union authorities have declared these wildfires to be “a growing menace” across the continent. In May, forest fires also plagued Mexico and Russia, and last August a deadly wildfire tore through much of California.