Portugal records the fewest summer forest fires in 10 years

LISBON, Portugal (AP) – Portugal has so far this year recorded its lowest number of forest fires since 2011, and the fires have claimed no deaths since more than 100 people died in 2017, have the authorities announced on Friday.

More than 80% of the 7,253 forest fires reported through September 30 were extinguished before reaching more than one hectare (2.5 acres) in area, the Home Office said in a statement.

Over 90% were extinguished in an hour and a half.

Portugal and other southern European countries typically experience massive forest fires during the hot, dry summer months.

But this year, Portugal has mostly avoided the extreme summer weather conditions, including heat waves, which often start and fuel forest fires.

After the 2017 deaths, the Portuguese government adopted a series of measures to prevent and contain forest fires.

These included public education campaigns on how fires start, the establishment of a rapid reaction force of firefighters and the cutting of several thousand kilometers (miles) of firebreaks, as well. that the provision of a large number of means of fighting fires. This year, Portugal had more than 12,000 firefighters, 2,600 vehicles and 60 planes on standby.

However, some underlying causes of wildfires remain to be addressed, such as the migration of people from the countryside to urban areas, leaving large areas unmaintained, and large tracts of coniferous forests and eucalyptus plantations. uninterrupted, which are economically profitable but burn fiercely.

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