Portugal issues wildfire alert in the midst of severe drought and heat wave

LISBON (Portugal) -- The Portugal government declared an eight-day alert Friday due to a higher risk of wildfires.

Portugal issues wildfire alert in the midst of severe drought and heat wave

LISBON (Portugal) -- The Portugal government declared an eight-day alert Friday due to a higher risk of wildfires. This is as the country, which has been suffering from drought, prepares for a heatwave that could bring temperatures up to 43 degrees Celsius (109 Fahrenheit).

According to a joint statement by five departments of government, the severe weather will cause "a significant increase in wildfire risk" from July 15 through 15.

The government can temporarily order precautionary measures by declaring a state of emergency. Friday's restrictions include a ban on public access to forests that are at particular risk and prohibiting the use of any farm machinery that could produce sparks. They also outlaw fireworks commonly used at summer festivals.

Portugal has been experiencing dramatic forest fires for a long time. 2017 saw more than 100 deaths from forest fires.

Portugal is not immune to heat waves and droughts. However, climate scientists predict that all of Southern Europe will experience higher temperatures and less rainfall due to global warming.

According to the European Commission's executive arm the European Union, climate change is putting the continent at risk of natural disasters like droughts and wildfires.

Temperatures in Spain are expected to rise to 42°C (107 F) this weekend, with some areas bordering Portugal.

According to government data, Spain's June rainfall was only half of the 30-year average.

Italy recently experienced a heat wave that lasted for several days and is currently experiencing its worst drought in over 70 years.

Portugal's 96% population was at the end June classified as either "extreme" (or "severe") drought. These are the highest categories.

Portugal's emergency restrictions remain in force, but police and forest rangers will continue to be on standby and will conduct regular patrols.

According to the Portuguese government, Portugal will have almost 13,000 firefighters and other staff available during peak fire season (July-September), more than 2800 vehicles, and 60 firefighting planes.

Portugal has made improvements to its forest management strategies and other strategies after the 2017 deaths that shocked the country. Since then, no one has been killed in wildfires. The country saw its lowest number ever of wildfires in 2017

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