Guest Chef Ricardo Costa from The Yeatman in Porto and Chef Heinz Beck from Gusto.JPG

Forest fire protection plan begins in Algarve

By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]

The first of two helicopters that will be part of the ongoing fire fighting plan for the region is now operating from Monchique.

It will remain in Monchique until October 15 and another will be placed in Cachopo (Tavira) from July 1 to September 30.

The aircraft aim to ensure a better response in combating forest fires at an early stage, given the high risk of fires this summer due to factors such as the accumulation of biomass in the forests and the prediction of extreme hot weather.

Faro Civil Governor Carlos Silva Gomes, who presided over the presentation of the fire prevention plan for the Algarve, said: “This reflects the great efforts made by the Civil Protection authorities to prevent and fight forest fires.

“The high risk of fires this summer is concerning, but I’m confident that all members of the Civil Protection teams will achieve better, or similar, results than those recorded last year.”

In 2010, the area destroyed through fires in the Algarve was about 193 hectares, although the district of Faro recorded the lowest area burned in the country.

According to the Commander of Rescue Operations Control in the Algarve (CDOS), Abel Gomes, the operational fire fighting programme for the Algarve was determined following a forest fire risk assessment.

“This year we will be down one helicopter in the Algarve, but the area the aircraft will cover has been increased. Each helicopter will be responsible for an area of around 70km, which is 20km more than last year, ensuring air coverage of almost the whole of the Algarve,” said Abel Gomes.

Meanwhile, fire fighting departments across the Algarve are facing serious financial difficulties, a situation the President of the Algarve Fire Fighters Federation, Teodósio Carrilho, describes as ‘unbearable’.

“This state of affairs is putting in danger the functioning of the fire fighters associations across the region,” he told the Algarve Resident.

“The financial problems affecting the Algarve’s fire fighting departments has to do with the decrease of financial support from the Câmaras, which are facing budgetary shortages due to the crisis.”