The smell of fires from Portugal’s major forest fires reached Madrid on Tuesday, Spanish aid workers reported, as the two countries battle the blazes.
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The city’s emergency services wrote on Twitter: “We have received many calls on the Madrid System 112 from citizens concerned about the smell of burning and smoke: it is a fire in Portugal.” Madrid region (112), which received 380 calls.
A satellite image, released by emergency services, shows a plume of smoke spreading over 300 kilometers, the distance between Portugal and the capital of Spain.
Struggling with drought and heat wave, the two countries are battling aggressively against large forest fires.
The Serra da Estrela fire, which is already the largest this summer in Portugal, has burned about 15,000 hectares, according to the latest provisional data from the Portuguese authorities.
This fire, declared on August 6 near Covilha (center), destroyed unique forested areas of this UNESCO-recognized park, in the heart of the Serra da Estrela mountain range and culminating at an altitude of about 2000 metres.
As the Civil Protection Command comes under fire for its handling of operations, Portuguese Interior Minister Jose Luis Carneiro on Monday pledged to launch an assessment of the “structural causes” and “way of fighting” against the fires “once the Serra da Estrela fire is out.”
In the Spanish province of Alicante (Valencia, southeast), 10,000 hectares have already burned and the fires that spread after lightning struck the Val d’Ebo on Saturday evening have not been extinguished. Authorities said more than 15,000 people had been evacuated.
Also, in the Valencia region, between 11 and 13 passengers were injured, three of them seriously, when the train they were traveling in was at the center of another fire, according to the authorities.
“Three of them suffered serious burns,” the Valencia region’s health department said, adding that one had been evacuated by helicopter. He added that there were also “between 8 and 10 minor injuries”.
In the Spanish region of Aragon (northeast), where more than 6000 hectares have burned, firefighters seem to have managed to repair the fire.
In Spain, wildfires in 2022 were three times more destructive than in all of 2021, when 84,827 hectares of smoke erupted.
Portugal, which is experiencing an exceptionally dry month this year, had its hottest month of July in nearly a century.
Since the beginning of the year, smoke has risen there on about 81,000 hectares, the largest area since the deadly fires in 2017, which killed about 100 people, according to the latest report from the Institute for Nature and Forest Conservation.