According to the most recent ICNF statistics, which account for the first 15 days of August, Portugal has recorded since January 1st, 2023, 27,803 acres of area burnt and 6085 rural wildfires, which translates to the second lowest number of fires and the fourth smallest burnt land area since 2013.

The fire that sprung up in São Teotónio, Odemira municipality, on August 5th, was the biggest in Portugal this year, consuming 7530 acres of land, while the fire recorded in Sarzedas, municipality of Castelo Branco, also this month, brought devastation to 6553 acres. The sum of these two wildfires is 14 083 acres of burnt land, more than half the national total in 2023.

The provisory data for this year point to a substantial decline in burnt land area compared to 2022, when 91 730 acres of land were scorched, the third highest value seen in the last decade, behind only the years of 2016 (118 814 acres) and 2017 (201 876).

In total, 27 802 acres of land have burnt this year, equal to about 27 thousand football fields. The worst-hit areas were the forest habitats, with 15 848 acres burnt, followed by woodlands (10 218 acres) and farmlands (1736 acres).

The ICNF has also stated that 4604 rural fires have been investigated so far, 3291 of which a cause was attributed to (71% of the fires investigated, responsible for 34% of the total burnt area). Among the main causes, arsonists and bonfires stand out.

In regional terms, Porto district saw the largest number of rural wildfires (1157), followed by Braga (582) and Viana do Castelo (525). The most land area burnt, meanwhile, was found in the districts of Castelo Branco, with 6806 (24% of the total), and Beja, with 5899 acres (21%), which stand out clearly, as the district with the third most land burnt is Faro, which didn’t record more than 2607 acres (9%).

The month of August marked an exponential increase in wildfires, seeing as the first 15 days have already seen 1013 fires, only behind the months of July (1258) and May (1015). In burnt area, the month’s first 15 days were enough to represent the largest amount in 2023 so far, with a total of 17 153 acres, or 62% of the year’s total up until now.