“Forest fires in Europe are constantly getting worse. This year, and until 17 August, more than 430,000 hectares were burned in the EU, while the average for 2008-2020 at this time of year is less than half of that area”, indicated an official source from the European commission.
The European Commission observes that “climate change also prolongs the fire period by several months, increasing the probability of new emergencies […] in Europe”.
Even so, so far, "no request for assistance has been received from Portugal in 2021", the European Commission refers to Lusa, at a time when the support requested by the country on 16 August regarding the Copernicus maps has already been closed.
For this fire that broke out in Castro Marim, Algarve, and which was deemed to have been subdued on Tuesday, the National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority then requested access to satellite maps of the Copernicus Emergency Management System.
“Three different types of maps were requested: an estimation map to identify and roughly assess the most affected locations, a boundary map to assess the geographic extent of the fire, and a classification map to assess the intensity and scope of the resulting damage of the event”, explains the official source of the community executive to Lusa.
In this year's fire season and until last Wednesday, the Copernicus satellite service has already been requested 30 times for forest fires around the world, according to data from the European Commission provided to Lusa.
At stake are, requests from Italy (from 25 July, 1 August and 11 August), from Greece (3 and 5 August), among other countries, such as Turkey (1 August).
Spain has also recently requested satellite maps to support the assessment of forest fires in the country, some of which are still active, according to Brussels.
Another of the support that the EU can give to its countries and partners is based on the activation of the European Civil Protection Mechanism, which, “over the last 10 years, has already responded to more than 40 large-scale forest fire emergencies”, states the institution in this written answer.
In this season of fires, and following requests from Greece, Albania, Italy, Northern Macedonia and Turkey, the EU helped to mobilize 14 firefighting planes, three helicopters, 250 vehicles and around 1,300 elements of rescue teams to the under the European Civil Protection Mechanism.
Some regions in Greece, Spain and Italy have been facing severe heat waves.