The forest fire in the Serra da Estrela natural park, in central Portugal, which has already destroyed 17,000 hectares, is “under control”, civil protection said on Saturday.
However, about 500 firefighters remained mobilized on Saturday afternoon, supported by aerial means, to avoid new sources of fire, said the commander of Civil Protection, Miguel Cruz.
“active surveillance” phase
This forest fire is already the most important this summer in Portugal, devastating the world geopark recognized by UNESCO in the Serra da Estrela mountain region, which culminates at around 2000 meters.
After being declared “controlled” during the night from Friday to Saturday, the forest fire entered the “active surveillance phase” before “being able to be declared completely extinguished” in “probably one or two days,” explained Miguel Cruz at a press conference. .
The flames have already destroyed more than 17,000 hectares of vegetation in this protected natural park, according to the latest provisional estimate from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS).
The recovery of the ecosystem of this natural park is our “priority” and it is “a job that has already begun,” said Elmano Silva, one of the heads of the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF).
Three seriously injured, 16 slightly injured
This forest fire has so far caused 16 minor injuries and three serious injuries among the professionals deployed on the ground, while 116 people have been transferred preventively, but have already been able to return to their homes, according to the latest report from the fire services. emergency.
As the Civil Protection Command comes under fire for its handling of operations, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Friday he wanted to know “what should have been done to prevent the fire from taking hold of this magnitude.”
Portugal, which is experiencing exceptional drought this year, experienced the hottest July in almost a century.
Since the beginning of the year, some 79,000 hectares have already been burned, the largest area since the deadly fires of 2017 that killed about 100 people, according to the ICNF.
Source: BFM TV