Hundreds of firefighters were actively engaged in extinguishing a wildfire in southern Portugal, leading to the evacuation of approximately 1,400 individuals since the fire’s onset.
The wildfire has resulted in the destruction of approximately 6,700 hectares of land. As a preventive measure, a total of 19 villages, four tourist establishments, and a camping site were evacuated.
Jose Ribeiro, commander of the emergency and civil protection authority, said weather conditions were expected to remain a challenge as Portugal grapples with high temperatures and strong winds.
The official added that there was a “lot of work” to be done to bring the fire under control. “It’s a worrying situation,” he said.
Ribeiro told reporters that there were two active fronts, with one heading to the Monchique area, which sports numerous thermal springs and hotels.
“The weather conditions we are going to experience in the coming days means any small occurrence [fire] could become a big one,” Secretary of State for Home Affairs Patricia Gaspar said.
The Ministry of Interior ruled out declaring a state of emergency, arguing that the work of emergency services had been effective.
The wildfire began on Saturday in the southwestern municipality of Odemira in the Alentejo region. It has also spread further south into the Algarve region, which is a major tourist destination.
Besides the south, major fires were also reported in Leiria in central Portugal and Cinfaes in the north.
The IPMA weather service warned of the highest stage of forest fire risk in more than half of Portugal’s territory.
Meanwhile, in the north of Portugal three districts were placed under red alert as temperatures were expected to rise to 41 Celsius (105.8 Fahrenheit) in the city of Castelo Branco.
According to official figures, there have been more than 5,600 fires in Portugal since the beginning of 2023.
In neighboring Spain, there were only a few small fires on Tuesday, all of which were under control.