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Rural Fires – Provisional data shows that burned area more than doubled in two weeks


Lisbon, Aug 30, 2021 (Lusa) – Fires have already caused nearly 26 thousand hectares of burnt area in 2021, according to provisional data available on the website of the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF), which show an increase greater than 60% in two weeks.

In total, there have been 6,620 rural fires to date, resulting in 25,867 hectares of burned area, mostly in bush areas (72%), but also in forest stands (21%) and agriculture (7%).

The data available on the ICNF website, referring to the period between January 1st and August 30th, are provisional, but reveal that in just two weeks the burnt area more than doubled, increasing 62.5% since August 15th.

According to the fourth provisional report on rural fires of 2021, released today by the ICNF, to that date 5,658 rural fires had caused 16,179 hectares of burnt area (65% in scrubland, 25% in settlements and 10% in agriculture).

“The year 2021 presents, until the 15th of August, the lowest value in the number of fires and the second lowest value of burnt area, since 2011,” says the document, specifying that 47% fewer rural fires were registered and 75% less burned area.

However, these data does not yet include the rural fire that broke out in the municipality of Odemira on August 18, nor the one that started in Castro Marim two days earlier and that consumed thousands of hectares.

The most recent ICNF report also indicates that about 25% of the fires registered up to August 15th happened during the month of July, but it was in March that the occurrences caused a greater burned area (6,711 hectares, which corresponds to 41% of the total area burned this year).

The majority of rural fires (81%) were occurrences with less than one hectare of burnt area, with 26 large fires having been recorded to date, resulting in more than 100 hectares of burnt area.

By district, Porto (865), Aveiro (493) and Braga (468) stand out with the highest number of fires. In the burned area, the most affected were Vila Real (3,627 hectares, about 22% of the total burned area), Faro (2,305 hectares, 14%) and Braga (1,877 hectares, 12%).

“Of the total of 5,658 rural fires verified in the year 2021, 4,238 were investigated (75% of the total number of fires – responsible for 91% of the total burned area)”, adds the report, noting that the investigation allowed the attribution of a cause for 2,987.

The most frequent causes were the negligent use of fire (57%) and arson (17%), with emphasis on the burning of forest or agricultural leftovers, burning of piles of forest or agricultural leftovers (13%) and fires for the management of pasture for cattle (17%).