The Government of Portugal is going to declare the alert situation due to the high risk of forest fire in the entire continental territory of the country from Sunday to Tuesday, although it does not rule out having to extend it for more days.

The measure was announced today by the Portuguese Minister of Internal Administration, José Luís Carneiro, at a press conference, in which he recalled that the country is facing a “very demanding” period, with a heat wave that will increase temperatures and winds between 40 and 60 kilometers.

In addition, 55.2% of the country’s territory is in severe drought and 44.8% in extreme, according to the most recent data from the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and the Atmosphere (IPMA).

The alert situation -the lowest level of response to catastrophes- will allow decreeing limitations on the use of fire, machines and agricultural work, as well as on access to forest spaces, the minister explained.

Civil Protection will also be authorized to hire 500 firefighters and dissuasive work will be reinforced with 25 patrols from the Armed Forces.

“Combating arson is a priority, taking into account that it has increased in the last three weeks,” said Carneiro, who advanced that 26% of the fires are associated with these behaviors, twice as much as last month.

Next Monday, the Government will meet again to study whether it is necessary to extend the alert situation for more days.

The measure comes in a summer where the fires have not given up in Portugal, which has just controlled the most devastating fire of the year, in the Serra da Estrela natural park, with 25,000 hectares burned.

The fire broke out on August 6 and was considered controlled on the 13th, but on Monday it reactivated and burned for another three days.

The virulence and duration of the fire have provoked criticism of the combat in the country, although the Minister of Internal Administration assured this Friday that “all the means available to the State were put to service from the first moment.”

The president of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, said on Wednesday that it is not yet time to analyze whether it is necessary to ask for responsibilities, since it is necessary to wait for the end of the annual fire season.

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