Portugal struggles to put out the fire in a natural park

Portugal struggles to put out the fire in a natural park

“It was chaos!”: Says a resident of the village of Orjais, at the foot of the Serra da Estrela natural park in central Portugal, where many means remain mobilized on Wednesday to overcome this blaze that started August 6.

“The fire was coming here and there,” Fatima Cardoso, who experienced moments of anguish on Tuesday as the flames approached the houses, told AFPTV.

“I love the firefighters (…) but according to what I see, there is no coordination between them”, regrets this 62-year-old woman, while the inhabitants fought the flames alongside overwhelmed firefighters .

Declared under control last week, the Serra da Estrela fire flared up again on Monday. Fanned by the wind, the flames continue to progress.

A resident cries in front of the advance of the forest fire in Orjais, at the foot of the Serra da Estrela natural park, on August 16, 2022 in central Portugal (AFP – PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA)

Wednesday morning, more than 1,200 firefighters were hard at work, supported by 400 vehicles while awaiting the intervention of air resources in the morning, to try to “stabilize the fire” and “control” it by Friday before the temperatures do not rise again, explained the commander of civil protection André Fernandes during a press briefing late Tuesday evening.

The Serra da Estrela fire injured 24 people, three of them seriously, while 45 people had to be evacuated preventively since Monday, according to the latest civil protection report.

Among the slightly injured are two firefighters who were victims of an accident with their truck which overturned.

This blaze, which is already the largest this summer in Portugal, has caused some 24,000 hectares to go up in smoke, including more than 8,000 since Monday, according to provisional data from the European forest fire information system.

Portugal struggles to put out the fire in a natural park
A forest fire approaches the village of Orjais, at the foot of the Serra da Estrela natural park, on August 16, 2022 in central Portugal (AFP – PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA)

The smell of burning arrived in Madrid on Tuesday, Spanish emergency services reported.

This fire, which broke out on August 6 in the vicinity of Covilha (center), destroyed unique species in this UNESCO-recognized park, in the heart of the Serra da Estrela mountain range, culminating at around 2,000 meters.

The Portuguese authorities, who are surprised by the resumption of this fire on Monday in three different places simultaneously, have opened an investigation to determine its origin, said Duarte Costa, president of the National Civil Protection Authority.

Reference: www.challenges.fr

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