LISBON | Portugal experienced a lull in the firefront on Thursday morning after declaring the major forest fire in the Serra da Estrela Natural Park in the center of the country “under control”, while rain weakened two major fires in Spain’s Valencia region.
• Also read: Portugal and Spain are struggling to put out several wildfires
“The fire is under control but not extinguished. There is a whole consolidation work that will continue in the coming days,” Portuguese civil defense commander Miguel Oliveira said on TSF radio on Wednesday evening.
“It’s always possible and very likely that new reactivations will occur, but we hope they don’t reach worrying levels,” he said.
According to the National Disaster Management Agency, almost a thousand firefighters were still on site as of Thursday morning.
After the fire was brought under control last week, it flared up again on Monday, fanned by strong winds.
This fire that broke out on August 6th in the heart of this natural park recognized by UNESCO is the most important this summer in Portugal.
He burned around 25,000 hectares of forest in this mountain range, which, according to preliminary estimates, culminates at around 2,000 meters.
Portugal, which is experiencing an exceptional drought this year, expects a new heat wave from Saturday. The Portuguese Institute for the Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) forecasts a gradual increase in temperature through September, which is said to be “warmer and drier” than normal.
Around 92,000 hectares have gone up in smoke there since the beginning of the year, the largest area since the devastating fires of 2017 that claimed 100 lives, according to the latest report from the Institute for Nature and Forest Protection.
In Spain, the onset of rain and the associated drop in temperature have slowed down two major fires that hit the Valencia region (southeast), the authorities and emergency services welcomed on Thursday.
“Finally, good news: the rain and the drop in temperature have made it possible to contain the fire in the Vall d’Ebo,” tweeted the President of the Region of Valencia, Ximo Puig, on Wednesday evening.
“Last night the Bejis fire developed positively with the drop in temperature and rainfall (…), we have few visible flames,” he commented again on Cadena Ser radio on Thursday morning, hoping that Thursday “is the crucial day to start a fire stop these fires”.
The area’s emergency services, 112, also confirmed that the showers, which saw “between 14 and 20mm of rain fall, reduced the flames until they almost disappeared around the entire perimeter”.
Between them, the Bejis and Vall d’Ebo flames devastated almost 25,000 hectares and forced the evacuation of about 3,000 people.
According to scientists, global warming increases the likelihood of heat waves, as well as droughts and, as a result, fires.