Thousands of firefighters remained on hand on Tuesday evening, August 8, to battle four days of wildfires in southwestern Portugal, which, like its Spanish neighbour, were in the grip of an intense heatwave that laid waste to much of the peninsula. Under fire. The Iberian is on alert.
More than a thousand firefighters were mobilized, supported by ten aircraft, in Odemira, near the Algarve tourist area in southern Portugal, where “Nearly 10,000 hectares of forest” It has been burning since Saturday, according to the latest report of the Civil Protection Commander, Vitor Vaz Pinto. The forest fire continued to advance ‘On two fronts’He said Tuesday evening, adding that firefighters had to confront the fire in the afternoon “Several fires broke out” in this area.
According to information reported by local media, but not yet confirmed by the authorities, a house and its outbuildings, as well as a rural tourist accommodation, were affected by the fire. In total, approximately 1,500 residents of about twenty villages and vacationers staying at rural tourism establishments and the camp site have been evacuated since the beginning of this fire, as well as more than a hundred animals. Many of them were welcomed into a school turned reception centre.
Record 46.4 degrees Celsius
Another major fire, in the Leiria region of central Portugal, calmed down overnight from Monday to Tuesday, after destroying about 7,000 hectares. Nearly 3,200 firefighters and 15 aircraft were mobilized on Tuesday morning throughout Portuguese territory. Temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius in some places on Tuesday, after setting a record for 2023 (46.4 degrees Celsius) on Monday in Santarém in the center of the country, according to a preliminary estimate from the Portuguese meteorological agency.
The Spanish Meteorological Agency (EMET) announced that a state of alert continues on both sides of the border, as southwest Spain declared an orange alert on Tuesday, while the province of Cordoba in Andalusia declared a red alert, synonymous with severe danger. Emmett said that temperatures in Spain are expected to reach 44 degrees Celsius on Tuesday and especially on Wednesday, which is the day when the heat wave, the third of the summer, reaches its peak.
The heatwave is expected to continue until Thursday, with a high alert declared in twelve Spanish provinces on Wednesday, in Andalusia, the Madrid region and the Castile-La Mancha region, as well as in the Basque Country and surrounding areas. Last weekend, more than 1,000 hectares burned in Spain. A fourth major fire broke out on Monday afternoon in the Extremadura region neighboring Portugal, in the municipality of Valencia de Alcantara, without firefighters being able to control it throughout the night.
The Iberian Peninsula is on the front line of global warming in Europe, with increasing heatwaves, droughts and fires. Nearly 100,000 hectares have already burned in 2023 in Spain and Portugal, according to preliminary reports, compared to more than 400,000 hectares in total in 2022.