Portugal continues to burn despite every means being used to put out the more than 40 fires that are engulfing areas in 12 of the country’s 18 districts. The aerial attack on the deadly fires is to be stepped up after a number of European countries including France agreed to send specialist planes and helicopters. Portuguese Prime Minister, Jose Socrates told reporters, “we are at a state of maximum risk and France’s help will make it possible to fight the fires more efficiently.”
The Portuguese authorities have put 16 districts on different states of alert from the maximum in the north, through to very high in the centre, including Lisbon, to high alert in the south. Despite the concerted efforts of around 3000 firefighters, many people have already lost everything. One man said, “all our houses have been burnt, we only have our clothes. “His neighbour was unable to speak having lost his livelihood.
There have been several casualties this weekend too, people unable to get away from the flames fanned by strong winds and hot weather. All of which adds to the catalogue of misery which has seen 13 people killed in Portugal in the forest fires this year, ten of whom were firefighters. Spain Italy and Germany as well as France are providing expertise and firefighting equipment in a bid to prevent the blazes spreading further.