Home Affairs Minister Eduardo Cabrita attended the weekly Civil Protection meeting and spoke to the media about the role that the National Civil Protection Authority played throughout the fires, as well as a comparison with last year's fires.
Eduardo Cabrita stressed that the operational meetings that take place every week with all entities of the Civil Protection system are important. “Attentive prevention and surveillance behaviors are essential for the time of year,” said the minister.
The Director of Home Affairs stated that it is possible to “witness the responsiveness of the system, which has been verified throughout the year”, highlighting the “particularly complex weekend, with adverse conditions in which there was a very effective response from all entities of the civil protection system ”.
According to the minister, the entities of this system guaranteed the operational response within the defined strategic priorities, being “the safeguarding of human life and the safeguarding of the populations”, which occurred in all fires “and in the occurrence of Nisa, either in the set of fires in Alfandega da Fé and Sabugal, or in what started in the municipality of Tomar and extended to the municipalities of Abrantes and Constância ”.
“To date, we have had 6,800 fires since the beginning of the year, which means that we have 36% less fires than the average of the last ten years. And a burnt area 42% lower than the average of the last ten years ”, underlined Eduardo Cabrita, who also said that the burnt area this year is 26% less than 2018.
Although there is a decrease in burned area compared to last year, between 2018 and 2019, Portugal registered a total of 18 thousand fires, but only two assumed the classification of large fire, having burned areas exceeding 100 thousand hectares in each, advanced Eduardo Cabrita.
The minister also pointed out "the good articulation between the various units of the system", since "95% of the fires have less than ten hectares, 85% have less than one hectare". This then means, according to the minister, that "they are dominated by the initial intervention, which is done by local firefighters."
"When I say that volunteer firefighters are the backbone of our system, it means they are responsible for the first intervention," and "this has allowed 95% of the 6,800 fires to be under 10 hectares," he said.
In addition to the volunteer firefighters, Eduardo Cabrita highlighted “the good immediate and initial responsiveness of the air assets”. “We went from 385 air operations last year to 871 operations this year, in an initial attack,” the minister said. "This means a 126 percent increase in airstrike interventions in initial attacks in the first few minutes at the most critical fire site," he admitted.
Although in the coming days there is an apparent improvement in weather conditions, the Minister of Home Affairs has appealed to the Portuguese and tourists moving around the country: “at this time of vacation, of significant circulation throughout the country, where people are moving to their home regions in the north and south of the country, we call for close attention to the recommendations of the authorities responsible for surveillance. ”
The Portuguese must also “strictly avoid any behavior that may contribute to the increased risk” of fire and that jeopardizes protection.