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Portuguese wildfire envelops Madrid skyscrapers in smoke 400 km away

On Tuesday (16 August), smoke from a massive wildfire in central Portugal engulfed skyscrapers in Madrid, known as “Four Towers”. Residents of the Spanish capital complained about a strong burning smell.

The fire that ravaged Portugal’s Serra da Estrela National Park began on 6 August, and was largely out by Sunday. However, it rekindled on Monday (15 August), leading several villages to be evacuated.

The fire has scorched over 17,000 ha and was being tackled by more than 1,100 firefighters supported by 13 waterbombing planes.

Andre Fernandes, Civil Protection Commander, stated that the fire was spread across multiple fronts making it difficult for firefighters to tackle in dry, windy conditions.


NASA Worldview satellite images revealed a plume of smoke that extended from the west coast of the Iberian peninsula, to its eastern half, and beyond Madrid. Emergency services had to inform worried residents that there was no nearby fire.

However, in eastern Spain, hundreds of firefighters worked around the clock to put out two wildfires in Valencia.

Since Sunday, the wildfire that has engulfed more than 9,500 hectares in the Vall d’Ebo region south of Valencia was ignited by lightning.


According to a Nature Geoscience journal study, climate change has made parts of the peninsula their driest since 1,200 years.

July was the hottest month in Spain since 1961, when Spain’s meteorological services began their register.

According to the European Forest Fire Information System, wildfires have charred more than 270,000 hectares of Spain’s forests so far in 2022. This is way higher than the 15-year average of 70,000.

Portugal has seen forest fires ravage 85,000 hectares or almost 1% of its territory. This is the highest percentage in Europe.

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