Image: Miguel Riopa/ Lusa

Authorities throw everything at Serra da Estrela ‘reignitions’

12 air support battle flames from above as local people’s efforts also pivotal

Authorities today are throwing almost everything they have at the new blazes raging through the Serra da Estrela natural park.

Fires that began on August 6 were finally deemed ‘extinct’ last Friday, only to see the inferno return within less than 48 hours.

The trouble with this situation is it is showing more and more ‘logistical failings’: local mayors, as well as citizens, have been criticising strategy (or ‘lack of strategy’), as well as communications failings.

If it wasn’t for large numbers of local people actively fighting flames themselves, damages already beyond imagination would be even worse.

Communications failings have been such that last night two teams of firefighters lost touch totally with ‘central command’. This sparked concerns for their safety as much as anything else.

Mayor of Guarda Sérgio Costa has told reporters that even with the many hundreds of firefighters drafted in to this latest drama, there simply aren’t enough of them to go round. “All civilians are fighting this fire as much as they can”, he said last night, referring to Vale de Amoreira, where there were fires in and outside the village.

Various hamlets and villages have had to be evacuated. Hopes are that firefighting will develop favourably during the day, with the vital help coming from planes and helicopters currently dropping copious litres of water from the air.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com