October 2017 Iberian wildfires

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October 2017 Iberian wildfires
Portugal wildfires on 8 October 2017.jpg
Satellite image depicting smoke from wildfires in Portugal and northwestern Spain on 8 October.
Total fires7,980
Total area133,437 acres (54,000 ha)
Date(s)13–18 October 2017 (2017-10-13 – 2017-10-18)
Fatalities49 (45 in Portugal and 4 in Spain)
Non-fatal injuries91

October 2017 Iberian wildfires was a series of more than 7,900 forest fires affecting Northern Portugal and Northwestern Spain between October 13 and 18. The wildfires claimed the lives of at least 49 individuals, including 45 in Portugal and four in Spain, and dozens more were injured.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

The first fires started by October 13 in Galicia. Prime Minister of Spain Mariano Rajoy and Jorge Gomes, Portugal's secretary of state of internal administration, believed most fires were lit by arsonists.[8] By October 15, 2017, winds increased, due in part to hurricane Ophelia passing between the Azores and the peninsula, and helped fan wildfires in both Portugal and Spain.

In Portugal, on its worst day, firefighters battled over 440 fires.[9] The country sought assistance from European neighbours and Morocco. The Portuguese Minister of Internal Administration Constança Urbano de Sousa, who resigned as a consequence, said "We have all our firefighters out there doing everything they can".[citation needed]

Meteorological aftermath in Europe[edit]

The arrival of Ophelia brought Saharan dust to parts of the United Kingdom, giving the sky an orange or yellow-sepia appearance, and the sun a red or orange appearance.[10] A strange 'burning' smell was also reported across Devon, also attributed to the dust, and smoke from forest fires in Portugal and Spain.[11] Winds up to 115 km/h (71 mph) were observed in Orlock Head, County Down, at the height of the storm. Approximately 50,000 households lost power in Northern Ireland. Insurance claims from Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland are estimated to reach £5–10 million (US$6.6–13.2 million).[12]

In Tallinn, Estonia, a black rain occurred due to the fact that Hurricane Ophelia brought smoke and soot of fires to Estonia from Portugal, as well as dust from the Sahara Desert, Report informs citing the Estonian media. "We looked at photos from satellites and the Finnish weather service confirmed that the smoke and soot of the fires in Portugal and partly the dust from the Sahara reached us," meteorologist Taimi Paljak said.[13][14]

See also[edit]

Satellite image depicting smoke from wildfires in northern Portugal and northwestern Spain on 15 October ahead of Hurricane Ophelia.


  1. ^ "UPDATE: Portugal forest fires death toll rises to 45". ENCA World. 2017-10-24. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  2. ^ Limited, Bangkok Post Public Company. "39 dead in 'terror-arson' fires in Portugal, Spain". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  3. ^ Badcock, James. "At least 27 dead as Ophelia winds fan wildfires in Portugal". Telegraph. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  4. ^ "At least 30 killed as Ophelia winds fan wildfires in Portugal and Spain". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  5. ^ Minder, Raphael. "Deadly Fires Sweep Portugal and Northern Spain". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  6. ^ http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/nation-world/world/article179237201.html
  7. ^ Hatton, Barry. "Portugal wildfires kill at least 32; 4 dead in Spain".
  8. ^ Jones, Sam (October 16, 2017). "One-month-old baby among at least 32 killed in Portugal and Spain fires". The Guardian. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  9. ^ "With over 300 fires, this was the "worst day of the year"". Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  10. ^ "Red sun phenomenon 'caused by Hurricane Ophelia'". BBC News. 16 October 2017.
  11. ^ "This is why the sky is strange and you can smell burning in Devon and Cornwall". Plymouth Herald. 16 October 2017.
  12. ^ Rachel Martin (20 October 2017). "Ophelia: NI and GB damage estimated to cost up to £10m". AgriLand. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  13. ^ Black rain observed in Tallinn due to hurricane Ophelia, Report News Agency, 26.10.2017
  14. ^ Galerii: torm Ophelia kandis koos Sahara tolmuga Eestisse pimeduse, postimees.ee, 26.10.2017, in Estonian