The first part of the 2013 fire season has been fairly mild, due to relatively cool and wet weather in southern Europe during spring and early summer. Nevertheless, unusually hot weather brought severe fire episodes to the UK and Ireland in March-April, and some relatively large fires were observed in Greece in May. Significant fire activity in the Mediterranean countries started only in July, with a large fire episode in Douro, Portugal (15 015 ha), some large fires over 1 000 ha in Spain (the fire in Mallorca burned 2 090 ha), in Greece (4 227 ha in Rhodes) and in Italy where Sicily was hit by a number of large fires. During August, moderately mild conditions continued in most of the EU, with the exception of Portugal that has been severely affected by several fires larger than 1 000 ha, especially during the second half of the month.
The total burned area mapped so far by the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) in 2013 is 151 491 ha in the EU, 20 612 ha in the other European countries, and 44 807 ha in North Africa and the Middle East. Overall, to date the fire season has been well below the historical average, despite the very high-to-extreme fire danger level reported by EFFIS in early August in large portions of the south-eastern EU, the Balkan region and North Africa and the remarkable fire activity observed in Portugal in the second half of August. However, conditions are currently still critical in the western Iberian Peninsula, and the end of the season assessment could result in a much higher overall impact of forest fires.
During August, in addition to Portugal, EFFIS mapped significant fire events in Turkey, Italy, Corsica, Bulgaria, Algeria, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece and Spain. The EU’s Emergency Response Centre (ERC) was called upon by Bosnia and Herzegovina for assistance in fighting forest fires, and Canadair planes have been deployed by EU Member States to help battle the raging fires in several countries.