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Third heatwave may start wildfires, Portugal on alert

Third heatwave may start wildfires, Portugal on alert

  • Portugal is preparing for its third heatwave of the summer.
  • Text messages have been sent to mobile phones warning residents about the risk of wildfires.
  • A wildfire in Valencia in neighboring Spain is out of control.

As Portugal prepares for its third heatwave of the summer, text messages have been issued to mobile phones informing them of the heightened risk of flames.

With temperatures anticipated to exceed 38C (100.4F) and severe winds expected in the next days, the nation has gone into alert.

The warnings cautioned people living in rural regions against starting any kind of fire.

In order to prevent sparks, the government has also restricted access to forests and outlawed the use of machinery.

At 12 a.m. on Sunday, the alert was declared, and it will remain in effect through Tuesday.

According to government estimates, 92,000 hectares of land have already burned this year as a result of heatwaves and drought-like circumstances.

More than 28,000 hectares, or more than 25% of the Serra da Estrela region, have been burned by fires in recent weeks.
Fires that broke out in Ourém and Leiria, to the north of the capital Lisbon, on Friday stopped trains for more than six hours and cost thousands of pounds in damage before being put out on Saturday.

A wildfire in the eastern province of Valencia in neighboring Spain is out of control and has grown to be one of the nation’s largest flames of the year. 35 planes were dispatched to try to control it on Friday as it entered its fifth day.

According to the Copernicus Earth monitoring programme of the European Commission, Spain has been more severely affected by forest fires this year than any other European nation. In Spain this year, flames have consumed four times as much area as they did ten years ago.

Early August saw 43 big wildfires — those that affected at least 500 hectares (1,235 acres) — reported in the Mediterranean nation, compared to an average of 11 in years past.

Spain has burned an estimated 284,764 hectares (704,000 acres) this year, according to the European Forest Fire Information System. This is four times more than the average amount since records began in 2006.

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