Fire fighting at full capacity as forest fire crimes continue in Portugal
Portugal has reinforced its fire fighting equipment and is now at full capacity. The National Operational Directive (DON), who is responsible for the Special Unit of Rural Fire Fighting (DECIR), claims that this is the third round of measures, dubbed as ‘reinforcement – level IV’, which will be in place until 30 September 2019. Over the next three months there will be 11 492 fire fighters spread over 2 653 teams with 2 493 vehicles on the ground. With regards to aerial means, of the 60 aircraft promised by the government, only 40 will be available.
Lieutenant-Colonel Manuel Costa, spokesperson for the Air Force, said that out of the 20 aircrafts missing 17 are awaiting the conclusion of legal proceedings, while the remaining three are being prepared for deployment.
According to the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF) there have been 4 888 rural fires this year alone.
Members of the Armed Forces will also be joining the fire fighting efforts manning lookouts for possible fires. The military reinforcements will be deployed across 21 patrols over seven districts of mainland Portugal.
The aid comes after a request by the National Authority for Emergencies and Civil Protection (ANEPC) to the Estado Maior (Highest Armed Forces Authority). The Armed Forces reinforcements will be deployed to land monitoring operations and if need be, will engage in post-fire actions or general support to operations of protection and rescue.
The Estado Maior’s General said there will be an ongoing support of the District Commands for Rescue Operations, with whom officials maintain a contact that facilitates ‘the permanent accompaniment’ of the state of affairs.
So far this year there have been a total of 2 650 forest crimes detected according to the Ministry of Internal Administration (MAI), resulting in 37 arrests. The majority of the crimes related to land clearance failures, however, 443 reports were due to misconduct due to non-compliance with controlled burning.
According to the MAI, from 1 January until 30 June 2019, the country saw 5 012 rural fires, resulting in the burning of 9 627 hectares of land however this represented “24 percent less rural fires and 47 percent fewer fires”.
Source: The Portugal News