Calm prevailed this morning on the front of the fires in Portugal, after the one that had broken out in the Serra da Estrella national forest was “under control”, as announced by the country’s Civil Protection Service.
“The fire has been brought under control, but not extinguished,” Miguel Oliveira, head of the Civil Protection Service, told TSF radio station.
“It is still possible and very likely that there will be new flare-ups, but we hope that they will not reach alarming proportions,” he explained.
Almost a thousand firefighters remained in the area today.
The Serra da Estrella fire, although brought under control Friday night into Saturday, flared up on Monday due to strong winds. Portuguese authorities, who expressed surprise at the occurrence of three outbreaks simultaneously on Monday, have launched an investigation.
This fire, which broke out on August 6 on the outskirts of Covilha in central Portugal, has destroyed unique forests of this Unesco-recognized global geopark located in the heart of the Serra da Estrella massif, which rises to 2,000 meters.
The fire has injured 24 people, 3 of them seriously, while 45 citizens have been evacuated from their homes as a precaution since Monday, according to the latest report. Among the injured are two firefighters who were injured when their vehicle overturned.
The Serra da Estrela fire, Portugal’s worst this summer, has burned 250,000 hectares, according to the latest, still preliminary, figures.
Portugal is experiencing an unprecedented drought this year, while this year’s July was the warmest in nearly 100 years. A further rise in temperatures is expected from Saturday, with the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) predicting a gradual rise in temperatures until September, which is expected to be “warmer and drier” than normal.
In the coming days “we will be faced with an increased risk” of fire, warned yesterday, Wednesday, the Portuguese Minister of the Interior, José Luis Carneiro.
920,000 hectares have burned in Portugal since the start of the year, the heaviest toll since deadly fires in 2017 that left nearly 100 dead, according to the Institute for the Protection of Nature and Forests.