Torre de Europa in Madrid veiled in smog in an undated photo, Source: Unsplash

Wildfire in Portugal spoils the air all the way in…Madrid

Wildfire in Portugal spoils the air all the way in…Madrid

This summer, the Iberian Peninsula has turned into a veritable tinder source ready for disaster

Firefighters in Portugal have been battling a wildfire in the Serra da Estrela national park in the centre of that country. Apart from the loss of greenery and habitat, the smoke has predictably worsened the air quality for anyone in the vicinity, too.

But that’s not all – it turns out that 400 kilometres to the east in the Spanish capital of Madrid, residents have been getting distressed about the burnt smell in the air thinking there was a fire somewhere in the city. In reality, the palpable smog originated from the fumes of the Portuguese wildfire.

In Portugal, forest fires have already ravaged around 85,000 hectares, or nearly 1% of the country's territory, the highest percentage in the European Union. The consecutive heatwaves that have enveloped Western Europe, and especially the Iberian and Apennine Peninsulas have hinted at the true potency of climate change and its capability to turn large areas uninhabitable virtually overnight.

The worst drought in more than a millennium

The fire in Serra da Estrela began on 6 August and seemed to be put out by Sunday, but then it reignited. It has taken more than 1100 firefighters and 13 aircraft to battle the inferno. The bad news is that meteorologists are predicting yet more arid weather on the way.

According to Reuters, NASA Worldview satellite images showed the plume of smoke extending from the west of the Iberian Peninsula to its eastern half and beyond Madrid, where emergency services had to explain to worried residents that there was no fire nearby.

The Nature Geoscience journal has conducted a study that concluded that climate change has caused parts of the Peninsula to experience their driest conditions in 1200 years!

Wildfires have also burned more than 270,000 hectares in Spain so far this year, way above the 15-year annual average of 70,000, according to the European Forest Fire Information System.

There are also fires in Spain that are still not under control. To the south of the city of Valencia, in the Val d'Ebo region, a larger fire is raging, causing more than 1,500 people to be evacuated since the end of last week.



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