Algarve escapes the worst fires

NEW FIGURES show that the Algarve escaped relatively unscathed from the fire season, suffering less than five per cent of last year’s damage.

The total area of forestry burned in the Algarve this year corresponds to a mere fraction of last year’s damage – just 1816 hectares as opposed to 40,000 hectares last year, according to figures released by Faro’s Civil Governor, António Pina. In total, there were 739 incidents this year as opposed to 980 last year when fires caused extensive damage in the Serra do Caldeirão and Baixo Alentejo.

Pina attributed this year’s success to the existence of a single command structure overseeing all 17 of the region’s fire corporations as well as the availability of an additional helicopter in Tavira. “Each time a fire broke out, either one or two helicopters came to the scene immediately, so ensuring that we never had fires on such a grand scale again,” he said. He added that this year had also seen the implementation of a so-called ‘triangulation strategy’ whereby fire corporations from the three nearest boroughs assisted at a fire scene.

Pina said that similar well laid preparations were in place for next year but that some additional proposals would also be presented to the government, regarding technical support for fire crews.

Sadly, the Algarve’s ‘success’ was not repeated elsewhere in the country. Between January 1 and October 9, a total of almost 300,000 hectares of forestry were destroyed, more than twice last year’s devastation.