LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal is beefing up its wildfire response by hiring another 17 water-dropping aircraft after forest blazes killed more than 100 people this year.
With warm, dry weather stretching into the fall, the government says it is doubling its air fleet to 35 planes and helicopters. Troops were being deployed Monday to patrol forests.
Amid a severe drought, Portugal has witnessed its deadliest fire season on record. Sixty-four people were killed in June and another 44 this month. The European Union says the acreage burned this year in Portugal is six times the annual average.
Authorities say most fires are started deliberately.
The deaths have brought a public outcry. Among other measures, the government plans to add more professional firefighters to work alongside the country’s volunteers, hire more forest rangers and clear woodland. •