The season that mobilizes more resources to combat rural fires ends today, but Civil Protection will reinforce the device in fire departments in the first half of October due to forecasts of hot weather.
In the last three months, the rural firefighting system was at maximum capacity, with 13.891 operational personnel, 3.084 teams, 2.990 vehicles and 72 aerial assets on standby.
The National Operational Directive (DON), which establishes the Special Device for Combating Rural Fires (DECIR), indicates that from October 1st the resources are reduced, leaving on the ground, until October 15th, 11.606 elements from 2.599 teams and 2.481 vehicles, in addition to 61 aerial assets.
However, in addition to the device already foreseen in the DECIR for this phase, the National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority (ANEPC) will reinforce, from Sunday onwards, the device of fire departments with over 90 teams and vehicles, totaling a total of 339 firefighters, he recommended that organization to Lusa.
ANEPC justifies this reinforcement for the first fortnight of October with meteorological forecasts from the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA).
Civil Protection also indicates that, from Saturday onwards, the air resources will consist of 63 aircraft, as the two planes under the European Union's Civil Protection Mechanism will remain in operation until October 31st.
What is considered the most critical season for forest fires, which took place between July and September, ends with a balance of two large fires that broke out in August, namely in Odemira, which spread to Aljezur and Monchique, with 7.513 hectares of burned area, and in Castelo Branco, 6.553 hectares burned.
The latest data from the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF) indicate that 2023 is the second year with fewer fires and the third with the lowest amount of burned area in the last decade.
According to the ICNF, a total of 7.097 rural fires broke out between January 1st and September 15th, which resulted in 33.003 hectares of burned area, including settlements (18.904), bushland (11.967) and agriculture (2.132).
“Comparing the values for the year 2023 with the history of the previous 10 years, it is noted that there were 40% fewer rural fires and 64% less burned area compared to the annual average for the period”, says the ICNF.
Compared to the same period in 2022, this year there were 2.649 fewer fires and the burned area decreased more than four times.