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Portugal's summer plague of wildfire arson

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Portugal's summer plague of wildfire arson


As every summer, Portugal is battling wildfires, which break out and move with such speed that many estimates of the surface area affected appear in various media and from official sources, and often conflict.

More than 600 firefighters drafted in from around the country are on the job in areas in the north and centre. Portugal measures about 600 kilometres from top to bottom, and is only about 200 kilometres wide.

According to Portugal’s interior minister, nine out of every ten fires are cases of arson; they are set intentionally. The justice authorities say 55 people were convicted of arson in 2009. The national police say 24 arrests have been made this year.

An official European report said that fires killed 21 people in 2003 and that 425,000 hectares of Portugal went up in smoke.

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