A forest fire in central Portugal that has destroyed an area of about 7,000 hectares was still mobilized by more than 1,000 firefighters on Sunday as the Iberian country experienced sweltering heat, civil protection said.
“The estimated area burned is 7,000 hectares, but the potential for this fire is estimated at more than 20,000 hectares,” said Jose Guillerme, commander of the emergency services responsible for operations.
“More than a thousand operational personnel who will remain on the ground are trying at this stage to ensure the stability of the fire, which has already reached 60 kilometers in circumference,” he said during a press conference in Proenca a Nova. .
“It’s a very large area with a lot of isolated homes and villages,” he added, adding that firefighters are focusing their efforts on four hotspots from which the fire is likely to break out again.
The forest fire, which broke out Friday in the town of Castelo Branco, destroyed about 6 thousand hectares during the first 24 hours, according to what the Civil Protection indicated in a preliminary estimate of the burned area.
The smoke and ash that emanated from it on Saturday reached the city of Fatima (center), although Pope Francis had gathered more than 200,000 pilgrims there.
Another outbreak mobilized more than 300 firefighters in Odemera, near the country’s southwestern coast, on Sunday.
However, civil protection official Tiago Boggio indicated on Sunday morning that “the flames give way to the means of fighting,” explaining that two fronts of fire are still active, but the third that was heading south and the tourist area of Côte d’Ivoire. The Algarve was taken under control.
Due to temperatures that could reach 40 degrees Celsius in the regions on Sunday, the Civil Protection warned on Saturday that the danger of fires would be “extremely high or maximum throughout the territory” during the “coming days”.
In neighboring Spain, a forest fire that burned nearly 600 hectares in Catalonia (northwest) on the border with France remained under control Sunday, although some cases recovered thanks to violent winds, while Andalusian firefighters were able to control the flames. in Bonares, Andalusia (south).