Barman finally charged over September’s devastating blazes in Monchique

The 49-year-old barman apparently ‘caught red handed’ setting light to the Monchique hillside last summer – causing blazes that spread all the way down to the borough of Portimão – has finally be charged with seven crimes of arson, including one of aggravated fire-raising.

The Loulé man, described at the time as having a day off from work at luxury resort Quinta do Lago, has been held in jail since the terrible day last September when the fires began (click here).

According to the public ministry, the man “stopped his car several times along the road” up the mountain, “setting fire to dry brush with a lighter”.

On September 3, the weather was “very hot and dry, with maximum temperatures between 32º and 40ºC.

As hundreds of thousands of locals and holidaymakers recall, the blazes devastated thousands of hectares of forestland, and forced the evacuation of many homes, including the 5-star hotel recently opened at Portimão International Autodrome.

Over 1700 firefighters, 200 military personnel, 570 vehicles and scores of helicopters and firefighting planes were involved in a battle that raged over days of a summer already marked by horrendous losses as a result of fires.

The so-called barman, however, says he remembers nothing, writes Correio da Manhã today.

At the time of his arrest, a psychiatric disorder was mooted with the suggestion that the man may have overdosed accidentally on his medication.

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Photo: from TVI24