Forest fire. Credit: gilitukha

Catastrophic fires over Portugal and Spain

3 August 2003 00:00 UTC

Forest fire. Credit: gilitukha
Forest fire. Credit: gilitukha

In the beginning of August 2003, in conjunction with the heatwave over Western and Central Europe, Portugal was hit by the most devastating forest fire in a century.

Last Updated

18 May 2022

Published on

03 August 2003

About one-third of Portugal is covered by forest and each year thousands of trees are lost to flames during the hot, dry summer. There have been some 1,700 forest fires in the country so far in 2003, destroying more than 26,000 hectares (64,000 acres) of brush and trees, according to forest service figures.

During the summer thousands of firemen were battling for weeks to keep the fires under control. More than 10 people died and more than 50,000 hectares of forest burned. Spain was also affected, although to a lesser extent, by several forest fires. MSG, with its channels in the visible and near infrared range, provided near-real time information about the location of the fires and the extent of the smoke plumes.

Met-8 Channel 04 (IR3.9), 3 August 2003, 12:00 UTC
Figure 1: Meteosat-8 Channel 04 (IR3.9), 3 August, 12:00 UTC
Met-8 Channel 12 (HRV), 3 August 2003, 12:00 UTC
Figure 2: Meteosat-8 Channel 12 (HRV), 3 August, 12:00 UTC
Met-8 RGB Composite NIR1.6, VIS0.8, VIS0.6, 3 August 2003, 12:00 UTC
Figure 3: Meteosat-8 RGB Composite NIR1.6, VIS0.8, VIS0.6, 3 August, 12:00 UTC
Met-8 RGB Composite IR3.9r, NIR1.6, VIS0.6, 3 August 2003, 12:00 UTC
Figure 4: Meteosat-8 RGB Composite IR3.9r, NIR1.6, VIS0.6, 3 August, 12:00 UTC