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European countries brace for forest fires in 2024

European countries brace for forest fires in 2024

Baku, June 13, AZERTAC

In the wake of deadly summer fires across the continent last year, the European Union has upped its efforts to lessen the damage in 2024, according to Anadolu Agency.

European nations are implementing measures to strengthen firefighting efforts, aiming to enhance protection for communities across the continent.

Euronews reported that the EU has assembled a team of 556 firefighters from 12 countries in the fight against wildfires.

They will be strategically positioned across key European countries this summer, particularly in high-risk areas such as France, Greece, Portugal, and Spain.

Additionally, the EU is introducing a rescue fleet of firefighting aircraft, including 28 planes and four helicopters stationed in 10 countries.

A total of €600 million ($644 million) in extra EU funds will be allocated to purchase 12 additional firefighting planes in the future, to be distributed among six countries along with several helicopters.

Here are the preparations of some European countries against fires:

France

France recently announced that the summer of 2024 will likely be hotter than usual, particularly in the Mediterranean region.

A total of 22,400 hectares of forests were burned due to wildfires in France.

France has put in place some 3,600 firefighters and 600 vehicles to bolster the resources of the Departmental Fire and Rescue Service.

Additionally, the country has 12 Canadair CL-415 planes, each capable of carrying more than 6,000 liters of water.

These efforts will be complemented by an additional eight Dash planes, each equipped to carry 10,000 liters of water.

Portugal

Portugal's rural firefighting system will undergo its second reinforcement of 2024 starting on June 1, following a challenging year of wildfires in 2023.

A total of 12,096 operational units and 70 aircraft will be available for combatting fires.

Many of those involved in the Special Rural Fire Fighting Device are volunteer firefighters.

As temperatures rise in July, resources will be further reinforced from the beginning of the month until Sept. 30, considered the most critical period for fires.

During this three-month period, 14,155 operational personnel from 3,162 teams are on standby in 2024, along with 3,173 vehicles — a slight increase compared to 2023.

Spain

Hundreds of thousands of hectares of woodland were destroyed in Spain in 2023, along with over 3,000 people being evacuated from the Canary Island of Tenerife during the summer season.

Authorities have implemented a more robust plan to enhance the effectiveness of combating potential forest fires across different regions of the country in the summer of 2024.

This plan also encompasses the Forest Fire Reinforcement Brigades and a fleet of high-capacity seaplanes, operated by the country’s air and space army.

The Military Emergency Unit of the Ministry of Defense, along with the Civil Guard and national police, will be available to support initiatives undertaken by Spain's various autonomous communities.

Catalonia has historically been among the most severely affected regions in Spain, where 240 new firefighters have been recruited to join the team.

The Corps of Rural Agents has increased from around 500 troops to a total of 620 in response to the escalating forest fire campaign.

From Jan. 1 to May 15, firefighters have already tackled 1,750 vegetation fires. This figure is slightly lower than last year, attributed to heavy April rains.

The authorities have implemented five levels of their climate emergency plan, ensuring they are fully prepared to combat any potential blazes ahead.

Italy

Italy is currently experiencing temperatures well above normal, leading to decreased availability of water.

The southern regions and islands are particularly likely to be affected, but all administrations in Italy have prepared contingencies for forest fires.

Additionally, Minister for Civil Protection Nello Musumeci has implemented an extensive awareness campaign through the media.

While many fires are attributed to climate change, he has an additional plan.

"I will suggest the opportunity for greater surveillance in rural areas to discourage arsonists and criminals in their senseless purposes," Musumeci said.

"Let's remember that the vast majority of fires are caused by humans, through fault or malice."

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