Cause of wildfires: More than 50 people arrested for arson in Portugal

The cause of forest fires
More than 50 arrested for arson in Portugal

Only a small percentage of fires in Portugal have a natural cause. Most fires are caused by neglect. After all, some of them can also be traced to arson, which is why more than 50 people have already been arrested this year.

According to the government, devastating bushfires in the past few days and weeks in the Portuguese holiday destination can also be attributed to neglect and arson. Interior Minister Jose Luis Carneiro told a parliamentary inquiry that more than 50 people had been arrested by mid-July this year on suspicion of being responsible for the bushfires. He stressed that this is more than 20 arrests over the same period last year.

According to the authorities’ findings, only 23 percent of all fires in Portugal have purely natural causes, he said. About 60 percent is caused by carelessness when using fires, such as barbecuing and smoking, or by starting campfires. According to Carneiro, 13 percent of it is intentional arson. The minister explained that the remaining 4 percent will be caused by the use of agricultural machinery. Portugal is doing its best to educate the community about the risks and to take preventive measures.

According to the ICNF, fires in Portugal have already destroyed nearly 60,000 hectares in just over six and a half months this year. This is more than double what it was in the entire previous year (28,415 hectares). The Civil Defense said that the outbreak and spread of forest fires this year were favored by the months-long drought, especially severe heat waves, and recent strong winds. In different parts of Portugal, state television station RTP reported that six major forest fires broke out in the evening, which were put out by a total of more than 900 emergency services.

Thousands of firefighters continued to fight the fires. In Portugal, an elderly couple died while trying to escape from the flames that were crawling near their home. The couple, aged about 70, got off the road in their car, the mayor of the small town of Morca in northern Portugal, Mario Artur López, reported on television Monday night. The car and its occupants were completely burnt. After a slight dip in extreme temperatures in Portugal, temperatures are also likely to rise again on Wednesday

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