Thousands of firefighters battled for the second day running yesterday to try to extinguish more than 20 huge blazes raging in Portugal. Emergency services said around 3,000 firefighters, many of whom worked through the night, were tackling 22 blazes which have hit the north and centre of the country. Soldiers also were drafted in to help.
A villager uses a bucket to fight a fire raging towards his home on the outskirts of Leiria in central Portugal. Picture: EPA
The huge operation has been hampered by the resulting clouds of thick smoke which grounded several of the aircraft which have been dropping water on the fires. The blazes, caused by temperatures in excess of 40C and fanned by strong African winds as the country suffers its worst drought since 1945, have caused the closure of the main A1 motorway connecting the capital Lisbon with Portugal’s second-largest city, Porto. In places, flames could be seen engulfing the forests on either side of the highway as cars sped along. Southern Europe is in the grip of a major drought and a major wildfire also broke out near homes in Pradel, south-eastern France, yesterday (Source: Scotsman News, by Elizabeth Carr-Ellis, 6 August 2005 http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1736132005)
On 5 August 2005 UPI reported that Portugal is sending federal troops to assist efforts to combat the numerous fires that have been raging in the country for the last two days. At least 400 soldiers will join firefighters and volunteers working to control nearly two dozen different fires, Portugal’s Diario de Noticias newspaper reported in its online edition Friday.
Some 3,000 people are working to control the fires, some working night and day.
The fires raging near the capital have covered Lisbon in a thick cloud of smoke. Portugal is suffering from intense heat and drought, the worst in 60 years, meteorologists said.
Latest satellite scenes showing fires and fire affected areas in Portugal
On Friday, 5 August 2005, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASAs Terra satellite captured a view of the forest fires (marked in red) that were burning at several locations in Portugal.
Current Fire Risk in Portugal:
The fire risk map of Friday 5 August shows highest fire risk in the areas where the fires are currently burning (Source: Meteorological Institute of Portugal)