On Sunday, June 18, the Portuguese government announced that at least 62 people have been killed by forest fires which started on the afternoon of Saturday, June 17 in Pedrógão Grande, spreading across several fronts in the center of the country. Two army battalions have been deployed to assist the approximately 600 firefighters that are continuing to bring the fire under control. France has sent three fire-fighting planes while Spain has sent two. The government has also declared three days of mourning.
While forest fires in Portugal are common every summer, this is likely the most deadly forest fire in the country's history.
There has been increased risk of wild fire in Portugal as a result of an ongoing heatwave and strong winds.
On Thursday, June 15, the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) issued warnings due to the high risk of wildfires. There is a “maximum” risk in parts of the regions Bragança (Alfandega da Fé, Mogadouro, Torre de Moncorvo, Freixo de Espada a Cinta) and Castelo Branco (Proença-a-nova, Vila Velha de Rodao, Vila de Rei), Santarem (Maçao, Abrantes), Portalegre (Nisa, Gaviao).
There is a “high” risk in parts of the Bragança region (Bragança, Vila Flor, Mirandela, Macedo de Cavaleiros, Vimioso, Carrazeda de Ansiases), Vila Real (Vila Real, Sabrosa, Alijo, Murça, Valpaços), Viseu (Tabuaço, Tarouca, Vila Nova de Paiva, Penedono, Sernancelhe), Guarda (Guarda, Sabugal, Pinhel, Celorico da Beira, Fornos de Algodres, Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, Trancoso, Meda, Vila Nova de Foz Coa, Gouveia, Manteigas, Seia), Castelo Branco (Fundão, Penamacor, Covilhã, Oleiros, Castelo Branco, Idanha-A-Nova, Serta), Coimbra (Arganil, Pampilhosa Da Serra, Gois, Penela), Santerarem (Ferreira do Zezere, Tomar, Vila Nova da Barquinha, Constancia, Sardoal), Leiria (Castanheira de Pera, Figueiro dos Vinhos, Alvaiazere), Portalegre (Marvao), Lisboa (Sobra de Monte Agraço), and Faro (Alcoutim, Castro Marim, Tavira, Sao Bras De Alportel, Loulé).
Individuals in Portugal are advised to monitor developments to the situation and to follow all instructions as issued by the local authorities (e.g. potential evacuation orders).