GFMC: Meterological Conditions and Fire in South East Asia

Forest Fires in Southern Europe

30  July 2003, 10:00

Latest Satellite Images:

Fig.1. Forest Fire in Central Portugal
Hot and dry conditions over the Iberian Peninsula have given rise to several fires in Portugal (left of center) and southern Spain (right). More than 200 firefighters were working to control a large forest fire in central Portugal, and had to call for reinforcements from the capital city, Lisbon, as well as from Spain. Media reports indicate that about 70,000 residents in nearby communities were without power or phone. This image of the fire (marked in red), which is creating a thick plume of smoke, was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite on 28 July 2003.

Source: NASA/EO



Fig.2. Fires in Southern Italy
Record-setting heat has been plaguing southern Italy this summer, increasing the fire danger across the country. This Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image from the Aqua satellite on 24 July  2003, shows numerous fires detected by MODIS and marked with red dots. Dust from the Sahara Desert hangs over the southwest part of the scene, softening the appearance of Tunisia (bottom left), Sardinia (top left), and Sicily (bottom center). For details see: 

Source: NASA/EO



Fig.3. Fire-weather forecast for Europe, 31 July 2003. 

(Source: ECPC Fire Weather Index Forecast)

Portugal: Army and fire brigades are fighting against forest fires
30 July  July 2003, 08:00 

(AFP) Approximately hundred soldiers and more than 250 firemen  fought on Tuesday in northern Portugal against an enormous forest fire. According to fire-brigade information strong winds, high temperatures and the hilly area close Silvares (260 kilometers North of Lisbon) make fire-fighting operations more difficult . Firefighters at ground were supported by four helicopters and six waterbombers. The fire started on Sunday afternoon. Occasionally the telephone and current supply of the town Castelo Branco broke down. Authority representatives assumed arson as a cause of the fire.

Spain: Fires near Madrid 
Wed. 30 July 2003, 11:00 

In Spain due to the persisting glow heat  forest fire risk is increasing. Near the capital Madrid a fire destroyed already hundreds of hectare forest land. Pine and oak forests with high ecological value fell the flames to victim.  The fire started of unknown causes near the artificial lake San Juan in the West of the capital. 
On Thursday during a fire fighting operation near  Lleida in the Northeast of the country a small aircraft crashed into a mountain-slope. The two passengers died.
Since the weekend the temperatures in Spain are increasing slowly. At  the holiday island Mallorca, which had been most strongly affected by the African heat front in the past days, the thermometer climbed again clearly over 30 degrees. Spanish meteorologists assuming this month will be in far parts of the country the hottest June of all times. 

Source: ORF

France:  Hunt for arsonists after conflagration in southeastern  France 
Wed. 30 July 2003, 11:00

Nice/ Nizza (dpa) – After forest fires in southeastern  France and Corsica the search for arsonists runs on full speed. Two suspicious men already are in detention. One of them is a local employee. He admitted arson in many cases because he was in rage by rejecting as a fireman. South of Draguignan meanwhile the battle against flames continues. 700 firefighters are in operation. Five people died so far.

Source: Die Abendzeitung

Italy: Fires in southern Italy- GFMC summery

29 July 2003

Southern  Italy, to which so far the problem of the water scarceness had been saved, is fighting against fires, which caused already enormous damages particularly in Calabria and in the area of Salento in the region Apulia.. Hundreds of hectare shrubland were destroyed. On Saturday also a fire at the slopes of the Vesuvs was extinguished. Several hundred task forces are busy all over Italy with fire-fighting operations.”The high temperatures and the drought endanger the South Italies completely”, said the General Director of the Italian Foresters Society, Giuseppe Di Croce. Most fires are caused by arson.  In addition, heat and strong wind contribute the spread of fires.

Fires in Southern France: Four died and 8 000 hectares devastated 

Source: Le Monde, 29 July 2003

President Jacques Chirac promised  “sanctions of an extraordinary gravity” against the pyromaniacs, who seem to be the cause of several fires:  Incendiary compositions  have been found near the hotspots.

On Tuesday at daybreak the water bombers began again their rotations over the three fires still in progress in Le Var, where two British vacationers died in the flames.  Moreover  900 firemen continued to fight Tuesday morning against the flames, wich had destroyed 7. 500 hectares of pine forests.

The fire front spread of several kilometers and reached on Monday around 11 p.m. the periphery of the seaside resort of Sainte-Maxime on the gulf of Saint-Tropez, causing scenes of panic, plunging the city in darkness and making the telephone impracticable. 

According to a first official assessment, four people died. Between 50 and 60 houses were destroyed or touched by the flames.  The firemen and  the mayor of Frejus, Elie Brun, denounced “the criminal behavior of the pyromaniacs”, noting that about thirty hotspots  had been counted on Monday, “often at the same time and in places close to the others”. “On Frejus incendiary compositions,  i.e. bottles with wicks inside, were found”, affirmed the mayor of Frejus. 


More than 200 firemen and nine waterbombers are in operation at  Frejus fires. Source: yahoo news

Fires in Southern France: Italian reinforcement

Source: Le Monde, 29 July 2003

Civil Safety had to appeal on  Monday with reinforcement of Italian firefighters to fight fires which devastate southern France. The fires are without precedent in terms of violence and simultanety. 

In Corsica the fires are spreading in the north of Bonifacio where a man was seriously burned and operations of evacuations were carried out by air and sea.

In Hautes-Alpes a hundred hectares were destroyed near Montbrison.

For more information look at the media page:  
Media Highlights on Fire, Policies, and Politics

For fire statistics of France : See GFMC statistics page for France:



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