Fire started over two months ago
The hot spots from a fire which broke out at a landfill in Vale da Venda, Loulé, are no longer emitting smoke, the president of the Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR) told Lusa on Thursday.
“The last information we have from the inspection we did with all the entities is that, at the moment, there is no emission of fumes” from the landfill of the Inertegarve company, said José Apolinário.
The commander of the Loulé Fire Brigade, Irlandino Santos, also told Lusa that the company had extinguished the hot spots in the Vale da Venda dump on the border with Faro.
The site inspection, carried out last Friday, involved officials from CCDR/Algarve, the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA), the Public Health Authority, the Loulé council, the regional Civil Protection Service, Loulé Municipal Fire Brigade and the GNR police force.
The fire at the company’s waste deposit resulted from the fire that broke out on July 14 in Gambelas (Faro) and spread to the neighbouring municipality of Loulé, with firefighters being on site until the fire was controlled. The remaining combustion no longer posed a risk.
Since then, the construction and demolition waste kept smouldering, releasing fumes with toxic gases that could be smelled by populations from several kilometres away from the site – prompting complaints from locals and the intervention of the Algarve’s CCDR, which partially suspended the company’s licence to operate.
“As far as I know, the burning waste has been covered by earth, and there are no longer any emissions,” the commander of that corporation said, stressing that, as far as firefighters are concerned, “the operation has long since been finished”.
He also clarified that when the blaze “loses its potential danger and risk, it’s no longer a fire and is a burn”.
According to the official, since the fire was controlled and the materials kept burning, it became “more of a public health issue”.
Irlandino Santos stressed that although it may seem only a “semantic” issue, in terms of operation, for the firefighters, “it’s different”.
On August 22, after learning of the air quality monitoring report commissioned by the CCDR, the Algarve Public Health Authority ordered “the immediate extinction” of the burning material.
According to regional health delegate Ana Cristina Guerreiro, the parameters Particulate Matter (PM10) and Benzene were “higher than the indicative values used by analogy as a reference”.
Lusa tried contacting the mayor of Loulé, Vítor Aleixo, but this has not been possible.
In late August, the mayor told Lusa that “all legal means” were being used for the company to extinguish the burning fires.
“We are using all the mechanisms that are legally possible for the company to resolve the situation as quickly as possible, as this is a public health situation,” Vitor Aleixo said at the time.