The Minister of Internal Affairs expressed, on Tuesday, recognition for the dedication and responsiveness of Civil Protection professionals who, in the first 15 days of the month, faced more than 2000 rural fires, some large.

Speaking to journalists at the end of an extended meeting of members of the National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority (ANEPC) in Carnaxide, Eduardo Cabrita stated that in the first 15 days of September there were 2,158 rural fires, which contributed to 10,000 hectares of burned land.

“Looking at the balance of the year, so far we have encouraging results,” said the minister, noting that there is a 41% reduction in the number of occurrences compared to the average of the last 10 years, while between January 1 and September 16 this year there is 63% burned area, below the average of the last decade.

Despite these results, which he described as “encouraging”, Eduardo Cabrita assured that the surveillance (of the GNR, with the help of the armed forces) and the prepositioning of the resources will continue in the coming days, although the risk levels are lower but with caution because of “some atmospheric uncertainties”.

The minister welcomed the fact that in the “toughest 15 days of this year” in the field of preventing and combating rural fires, civil protection professionals responded as they did and expressed their solidarity with those who were affected by the events, in which a pilot was killed and three dozen injured, especially among firefighters.

Of the four operatives who suffered serious injuries, they are all safe from danger, said Eduardo Cabrita.

In the retrospective of the last 15 days, the minister highlighted three large fires – Sertã, Miranda do Corvo and Valpaços -, which involved in some cases close to a thousand operational.

According to Eduardo Cabrita, the peak of firefighting intervention occurred from Friday to Saturday, with the intervention of 7000 operatives in 25 fires of significant dimensions.

Overcoming the difficulties, the minister also underlined the sensitization work with the populations and the true “safety culture” that was created to avoid risky behaviour in a particularly severe climate on the continent.

According to Eduardo Cabrita, it is now time to continue the work in various areas to protect the forest and to begin “preparing for the future summer”