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Dublin: 5 °C Saturday 29 February, 2020

Portugal prepares for fires as temperatures set to soar to 45 degrees

The country is trying to avoid a repeat of last year’s deadly wildfires.

Beatriz Augusto lost her house in Vouzela in last year's deadly fires.
Beatriz Augusto lost her house in Vouzela in last year's deadly fires.
Image: Global Media Group/SIPA USA/PA Images

PORTUGAL HAS MOBILISED more than 10,000 people and boosted control operations in fire-prone areas of the country ahead of a major heatwave to avoid a repeat of last year’s deadly wildfires.

“This year, we have in place the biggest plan ever: 10,700 men and women around the country,” including “voluntary firefighters, police and soldiers”, Interior Minister Eduardo Cabrita told local media.

Starting tomorrow, Portugal will face a four-day-long heatwave when temperatures could reach 45 degrees Celsius in places, according to the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA).

Facing this weather outlook, “we are reinforcing control operations especially in the most vulnerable zones” by “already prepositioning the means of intervention” in the event of fires, Patricia Gaspar, spokeswoman for the national civil protection authority, said.

“This plan allows us to gain time in the initial attack phase,” she stressed, adding that this year rescue services have two planes that are currently involved in monitoring operations.

64 deaths 

In June 2017, 64 people were killed in the deadliest wildfires in Portugal’s history.

The fires burned for five days in the central Leiria region, breaking out at the height of a summer heatwave. Many of the victims died trapped in their cars by the flames while trying to escape.

Record high temperatures around Europe this summer have triggered deadly wildfires from Sweden to Greece.

© AFP 2018 

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