Country reports first large forest fire of the year

Country reports first large forest fire of the year

12 July 2008

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Portugal — Last weekend the biggest forest fire of 2008 broke out in Aveiras de Baixo, Azambuja, though despite being extinguished on the same day, it entailed the efforts of 317 firemen, two helicopters, two heavy-duty aircraft, and 85 vehicles.

The fire was detected at around 13h00, thought to have started amongst eucalyptus trees spreading between Azambuja and Vila Nova de Rainha, which are notoriously hard to control once the leaves have incinerated given their tendency to burn and spread their ashes over large distances.

At one point, the fire was being tackled from three sides, and three people were evacuated from their homes as necessary yet precautionary measures.

No one was injured in the blaze, which spread over 150 hectares.

Last year, PJ Judiciary Police arrested 37 people for starting forest fires, though around 200 people were involved as witnesses in an incident relating to forestry arson.

Most suspects were detained in the districts of Coimbra and Lisbon, where 1,202 criminal investigations were instigated.

Last year, according to the General Board of Forest Resources, between January 1st and September 30th, the area destroyed by forest fires was 12 times smaller than the average of the past five years.

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