The fire in Serra da Estrela began on August 6 and has already destroyed 16% of the natural park, reports CNN Portugal. The fire reactivated on Monday, and over 1,300 firefighters were at the scene by Tuesday night. The areas of Manteigas, Covilha, and Guarda have been affected.
A total of 14,000 hectares have been destroyed, and all of the burnt trees will have to be taken down.
Andre Fernandes, the national commander of the Civil Protection said in a press conference that the fire has “a violent behavior, in many areas with an elevated intensity.”
Various villages were evacuated as people fleed their homes to safety. 24 people were injured in the fire in Serra da Estrela, three people seriously.
A large fire has just resumed in central Portugal, in the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fire was the largest in the country in four years: more than 17,000 hectares were engulfed in flames. pic.twitter.com/poH53Lp4Nr
— Abdul Quadir – عبد القادر (@Journaltics) August 16, 2022
Along with the fire in Serra da Estrela, around 50 municipalities in the north, center, Alentejo, and the Algarve are classified under maximum fire risk.
This year, 68 people have been arrested under suspicion of starting forest fires, 16 more than last year. A lot of these cases are not deliberate.
For example, in Albufeira, the police arrested a 50-year-old that started a “queimada” (small controlled fire to fertilize soil or burn unnecessary plants), and the situation got out of control.
Portugal is set to enter a third heat wave on August 20.
According to the Portuguese Institute of the Ocean and Atmosphere, the next few days will be hotter, and temperatures could reach 40 degrees. This will make fighting fires harder.