Portugal has activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to help stop the spread of forest fires in several parts of the country. In an immediate response to the request for assistance, the EU has mobilised via the mechanism a firefighting plane which is managed by Italy as part of the EU 'buffer capacity' developed to support national capacities where required. This comes in addition to two planes deployed by Spain.
"The EU stands in solidarity with Portugal to help it fight fires in the country. We are in continuous contact with the national authorities of various participating states in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to coordinate the response. Our thoughts are with all those affected and with the first responders who are doing their best to battle the fires" said EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides.
The European Commission's Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC), which is actively monitoring the forest fires, is in contact with the civil protection authorities of the countries participating in the Mechanism.
The ERCC uses national monitoring services and tools such as EFFIS (the European Forest Fire Information System) and satellite imagery to provide an overview of the situation in Europe.
The situation with multiple forest fires has been deteriorating in Portugal since Saturday, 6 August 2016. As of today, over 366 forest fires have been registered with the national authorities, threatening homes and forcing people to flee.
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism facilitates the cooperation in disaster response among 34 European states (28 EU Member States, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia and Turkey). These Participating States pool the resources that can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world. When activated, the Mechanism coordinates the provision of assistance inside and outside the EU. The European Commission manages the Mechanism through the ERCC.
The European Civil Protection Mechanism was activated several times over the last three summers to respond to forest fires inside and outside Europe.
Portugal activated the EU's Civil Protection Mechanism for support with forest fires most recently in August 2013.