Dozens injured in Portugal bushfires as heat escalates

(ORDO NEWS) — More than 3,000 firefighters fight fires, EU offers emergency help and temperatures could reach 43C

Wildfires in Portugal have injured 29 people, thousands of firefighters and dozens of aircraft are fighting the fire.

Authorities said 12 firefighters and 17 civilians required medical attention for minor injuries, according to Portuguese state broadcaster RTP and local media.

By Sunday afternoon, Portugal’s civil defense agency said more than 3,000 firefighters were fighting the fires.

The country is experiencing a heat wave that will intensify, with temperatures expected to hit 43C (109F) on Tuesday.

On Sunday, the EU activated the Fire Fleet Assistance Program, which allows member states to share resources to help Portugal.

Spain, which has also recently weathered wildfires, has mobilized two fire planes, according to European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic.

The Portuguese government said it deployed 60 aircraft to support fire brigades. In 2017, more than 100 people died as a result of uncontrolled wildfires.

The EU has warned that the continent faces one of its toughest years yet for natural disasters, including droughts and wildfires, as the climate crisis worsens.

In Spain, a fire in the southwest forced the evacuation of 30 residents as a precaution, while 115 firefighters, supported by helicopters and planes, were sent to the fire near the village of El Ronquillo.

António Costa, Prime Minister of Portugal, has postponed a visit to Mozambique scheduled for this week “due to weather forecasts that indicate a very serious deterioration in the risk of rural fires.”

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa canceled a trip to New York, where he was supposed to speak at a meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council.

Last month, 96% of Portugal was categorized as “extreme” or “severe” drought.

The Portuguese government has announced an increased alert level, which will remain in effect until Friday.

Interior Minister José Luis Carneiro said: “This means … that we can automatically and proactively activate all emergency and civil defense plans at all territorial levels.”

The Portuguese government has banned the public from visiting forests considered to be at particular risk of wildfires, as well as banning the use of agricultural machinery and outlawing fireworks.

Costa, in a tweet, reminded citizens not to light fires outdoors and not to use heavy farm equipment that could cause sparks.

He wrote: “Fire prevention is the best help we can give our firefighters.”

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