Since the beginning of the year, Portugal has recorded 7.097 rural fires, resulting in 33.003 hectares of burned area, the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF) said today.
With data up to September 15th, ICNF's provisional report on rural fires states that, comparing 2023 with the last 10 years, there were 40% fewer rural fires and 64% less burned area, in relation to the annual average for the same period last year. .
“The year 2023 presents (…) the second lowest value in number of fires and the third lowest value in burned area, since 2013”, he observes.
Rural fires with a burned area of less than one hectare are the most frequent, corresponding to 84% of the total.
Regarding the largest fires, the ICNF highlights the occurrence of four fires with a burned area greater than or equal to 1.000 hectares.
“Fires are considered major whenever the total burned area is equal to or greater than 100 hectares. Until September 15, there were 33 fires falling into this category, which resulted in 22.803 hectares of burned area, around 69% of the total burned area”, he points out.
Of the total of 7.097 rural fires, 6.000 were investigated, with the process of investigating the causes completed: 85% of the total number of fires – responsible for 97% of the total burned area.
The investigation allowed the attribution of a cause for 4.204 fires, of which 70% were investigated, 68% were responsible for the total area burned.
The most frequent causes are arson (28%) and agricultural fires (17%).
“Together, the various types of fires and fires represent 41% of the total causes identified. Rekindlings represent 5% of the total number of causes investigated, a figure lower than the average for the previous 10 years (13%)”, he maintains.
Analyzing by district, the ICNF highlighted Porto (1.416), Braga (670) and Viana do Castelo (589) as those that recorded the highest number of fires, all of them small in size, not exceeding one hectare of burned area.
With regard to the burned area, Castelo Branco with 7.429 hectares (around 23% of the total), Beja with 5.908 hectares (18% of the total) and Faro with 2.652 hectares (8% of the total) were the most affected.
So far, adds the ICNF, August is the month with the highest number of rural fires, with 1.798, corresponding to 25% of the total number recorded in the year.
It is also the month with the largest burned area in 2023, with 22.019 hectares burned – 67% of the total recorded in the year.