GFMC: Meterological Conditions and Fire in South East Asia

Forest Fires in Southern Europe

01 August 2003, 10:00

Latest Satellite Images:

Fig.1. : Forest Fires in  Croatia, Slovenia
Heat signatures are visible from fires burning in Croatia, Slovenia . This images were acquired on 31 July 2003, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua and Terra satellites.

Source: MODIS

Fig.2. : 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.3. 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.4. Fire-weather forecast for Europe, 02 August  2003.

(Source: ECPC Fire Weather Index Forecast)

Fires rage in Croatia, Slovenia August 01, 2003

FIREFIGHTERS villagers and even tourists struggled today to extinguish wildfires which destroyed 2,300 hectares of forests, olive groves and fields in a national park and at least three islands in southern Croatia.

The fires broke out on Tuesday on Velebit Mountain in central Croatia, destroying rare plants in a park listed by UNESCO as a natural heritage site. Hundreds of firefighters were battling the blaze but were hampered by winds and temperatures hitting 33 degrees celsius.

On the southern island of Bisevo, firefighters failed to save two empty homes in wildfires that began yesterday. About 300 hectares of pine trees – half the island’s wooded area – have been destroyed.

On two other islands, Hvar and Brac, firefighters frantically fought wildfires while villagers and tourists tried to help, throwing buckets of water on flames fanned by tinder-dry brush. Villages and tourist resorts were threatened.

The country’s five firefighting planes flew around the clock, dumping water on the flames.

Interior Minister Sime Lucin described the fires as arson. At least two people were in custody.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Slovenia, about 500 firefighters were fighting the biggest fire in the past 10 years in the Slovenski Kras area, near the Italian border. The fire, which had apparently leapt from across the border, swept through dry, uninhabited terrain.

Forest fires continue to rage in Portugal and Croatia

01 August 2003

DRAGUIGNAN/LISBON/ZAGREB (dpa). The devastating forest fires continue to terrify people in the South of Europe. In the hinterland of the French Côte d’Azur the wind calms down, so containing flames succeeded to the 700 firefighters in operation. However the situation is still strained: Gusty winds can let the flames blaze up at any time again. President Jacques Chirac threatened with “strictest punishment” becauce fires had been caused “by intention or carelessness”. In the endangered regions person controls were intensified, the authorities arrested several confessing comitters. A 30-year old from Figanières set a blaze because he was not allowed to become a fireman. From all over France more than 1000  fire men are mobilized. Spain and Greece sent accessorily waterbombers. Since beginning of the summer season  in the south of the country 30,000 hectares are burned down so far- the area of the German city Bremen. Five people died. In central Portugal  near the city Oleiros a driver  burned in its car. Before a farmer who was helping the fire crews lost his life.

On the Croatian Adria islands Brac, Hvar and Bisevo heavy fires started at Wednesday evening. Hundreds of fire fighters were in operation. According to the opinion of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) the governments of the mediterranean countries should invest more money into fire prevention, instead of fighting only the fires. Stricter laws and high punishments for arsonists are necessary.

Source: Frankfurter Rundschau

Forest fires on Croatian islands not yet under control
01 August 2003

Zagreb (dpa) – On the Croatian Adria islands Brac and Hvar  large area forest and shrub fires are raging. As the national television reports, more than 2000 hectares Pine forest and shrub land burned down so far. Firemen from all over Croatia are enforcing their colleagues on the two islands. Also soldiers, policemen and tourists are supporting fire fighting operations. In addition waterbombers are in the use. The fire on the island Bisevo could be brought under control.

Source: Frankfurter Rundschau

Forest fires in Portugal under control
01 August 2003

(AFP) After more than four days and the death of two firefighters  the devastating fires in the North of Portugal for the time being are brought under control.  At least 7000 hectares coniferous forest close Castelo Branco fell the flames  to the victim. 500 firefighters and 240 soldiers from the whole country were further in operation, in order to prevent a new blaze- up at temperatures of nearly 40 degrees Celsius. On Wednesday a 65 year old man was burned during fire-fighting operations. Wednesday evening a pensioner was found dead  in its burned car.

Southern Europe-Overlook
31 July 2003, 08:00

Firefighters are trying to contain the last of the major forest fires which have devastated parts of southern France in recent days, killing five people. But several fresh blazes broke out on Wednesday, including one at Salon-de-Provence, where 17 firefighters were hurt, two seriously. Dry weather and soaring temperatures have led to hundreds of blazes throughout Europe. More than 500 firefighters and 300 soldiers have been fighting forest fires in central Portugal, one of which killed an elderly man as it swept through his home. Temperatures of 40C have hindered the operation, and the flames have charred large areas north-east of the capital, Lisbon.

Source: BBC News

Forest fires in Portugal
31 July 2003, 11:48

Lisbon (AP)  A man lost his life in a fire in central Portugal, as the Portuguese press agency Lusa reported on Wednesday. The fire broke out on Sunday and devastated far areas in the proximity of the city Castelo Branco. Temperatures close 40 degrees and strong winds obstructed the fire-fighting operations. More than 500 firefighters, 300 soldiers and nine waterbombers were in use.

Portugal: Army and fire brigades are fighting against forest fires
30 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

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.

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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