The latest ICNF report indicates that between 1 January and 31 August, there were 9,701 rural fires that resulted in 106,639 hectares (ha) of burnt area.

"Comparing the figures for 2022 with those of the previous 10 years, it is noted that there were 15 percent less rural fires and 36 percent more burnt areas than the annual average for the last 10 years," the document states.

The report said that by 31 August, 2022 had the sixth highest number of fires and the fourth highest number of burnt areas since 2012.

In turn, the years with the highest number of fires were 2012 (19,071), 2013 (16,114), 2015 (16,034), 2017 (14,344) and 2016 (10,942).

According to ICNF, the largest number of fires broke out in the districts of Porto (2,294), Braga (1,066) and Vila Real (830) and were "mostly small" by not exceeding one hectare of burnt area, but the district most affected in burnt area was Guarda with 24,773 hectares, representing more than 23 percent of the total area burnt until 31 August.

Other districts with more burnt areas were Vila Real, with 24.105 hectares (around 23 percent of the total), and Leiria, with 10.069 hectares (9 percent of the total).

The ICNF states that the municipalities of Guarda, Manteigas, Covilhã, Vila Real and Ourém were also the most affected.

The document also shows that in 2022, fires with a burnt area of less than one hectare are the most frequent, representing 82 percent of all rural fires, and up until 31 August, 16 large fires were registered, with a burnt area of 1000 hectares or more.

The biggest fire was the one that started on 6 August in the Covilhã municipality, and that reached the Serra da Estrela area over 11 days, having consumed 24,334 hectares of forest, followed by the fire in the municipality of Murça (Vila Real) which in July caused 7,184 hectares of burnt area.

According to the document, July is the month with the greatest number of rural fires, with a total of 2,745 fires, which corresponds to 28 percent of the total number registered this year, and is also the month with the greatest burnt area, 49,888 hectares, which represents 47 percent of the total.