It’s like being in an oven when you stand in the hills of forested hills north Lisbon.
Our thermometer read 43C (109.4F), around midday, as hot and bone dry winds whipped ash into the faces.
We were able to follow a team of firefighters, as they tried to put out the flames from the dry trees and scrub.
They must have felt unbearable in heavy clothing, trudging up and down steep hillsides.
Stoic residents watched as the dogs ran in their cages, and a white horse nervously paced in its enclosure.
People who live in these small communities have suffered terrible conditions over the last few days.
Feliciano Liberal, a local homeowner, told me that he owns three properties that just survived being destroyed by fire.
He stated, “We opened the gate, and we saw all burning.
“I used a tractor that had water to put out the flames.”
He looks tired and shrugs and then adds, “I’m sorry.”
“What are we able to do?” Nothing. This is the third time it has happened.”
He agrees with other locals that the fire season is becoming more prolonged and more severe.
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Many areas of the country are experiencing drought. This is transforming the vegetation into fuel for the flames that will be lit by the soaring temperatures.
On Tuesday, emergency services struggled to maintain control. Evacuations were ordered and a major motorway was closed. Significant festivals were also cancelled.
Portugal’s prime Minister had already warned that things could get worse as temperatures rise to 46C (114.8F in some areas) in the coming days.
Climate change being blamed
Manuel Santos is the second-in command of the firefighting operations in the region north Lisbon. He said that there is a large area that has been burned.
“The temperature is increasing and we are concerned.
“We are trying to minimize the suffering of the people.”
Climate change is the cause of Commander Santos’s problems.
Scientists agree that the world is warming is causing more severe and frequent weather events.
Some people think this means unusual rains or storms. But in Europe, especially in the south it seems to be punishing, prolonged periods of nearly unliveable heat.
People adapt just as they have always done, but it can be very unpleasant and, in Portugal, it is frightening.
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