Portugal Fires Injure 29 As Heat Wave Hits Europe

At least 29 people were injured by forest fires in Portugal as a heat wave hit the country, with temperatures expected to reach up to 45C on Tuesday.

Saturday reports showed Portugal logged 125 fires, breaking this year’s daily records. Local authorities also said 1,500 firefighters were deployed to put out three big blazes.

Although few houses and buildings were damaged, some small villages were evacuated on Saturday.

The Portuguese government declared a state of alert across the country, in effect until Friday, July 15. Portugal’s prime minister Antonio Costa posted an update on Twitter, asking people to avoid using fire or heavy machinery to reduce the blaze risk.

Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has also called off a trip to join a United Nations meeting in New York next week.

High temperatures estimated for this week have caused further concerns. The Portuguese weather agency predicted that Tuesday’s temperatures would reach up to 45C in Alentejo, the region between Lisbon and the Algarve.

In the rest of the country, temperatures are forecast to be in the high 30Cs and low 40Cs. Winds of around 40mph are also expected in several regions, the agency added.

Portugal is facing a chaotic fire situation as a heat wave hits Europe. Many western and southern areas reported unseasonably hot temperatures this summer, especially in France and Spain, where many wildfires have also been logged.

Experts say the abnormal heat wave hitting Europe is due to climate change.

The European Commission, European Union’s executive arm, explained that climate change had caused many natural disasters on the continent, including droughts and wildfires. In Spain, temperatures are expected to reach 42C in areas bordering Portugal.

Also, France’s government had to deploy 1,000 firefighters with water-dropping plans to combat a large forest fire in the southeast area of the country and evacuate several villages.

Italy was also hit by a prolonged heat wave this summer. Local authorities said it caused the worst drought in over seven decades, putting the country’s crop harvests at risk.