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Monchique ablaze: firemen battle to get access, says fire chief

A little before 5.30pm Monchique was plunged into the drama that everyone was dreading. A forest fire, deep inland, where access is difficult and the landscape is a tinderbox.

As the sun set over a day of high winds, Faro’s civil protection commander Vaz Pinto said that one of the many problems facing five companies of fire-fighters is access.

For now, 133 men and 39 vehicles are fighting flames which broke out on the western flank of the borough, between Monchique and Aljezur.

JCBs are working to cut firebreaks but according to Lusa at 9pm this (Friday) evening, the fire was still “uncontrollable”.

Vaz Pinto has said it could easily rage through the night. The only ‘saving grace’ at the moment is that no homes appear to be in its path.

Rui André, the mayor of Monchique – an area that has suffered so much from raging fires in the past – told Lusa: “The fire is consuming an area of forestland. There are habitations dispersed through the hills but at the moment they are not at risk”.

The Resident will update news as we get it.

UPDATE SATURDAY according to news at 4.45am

After almost 12 hours, the fire was finally classified as being in the “resolution phase”. The thwack-thwack-thwack of helicopters overhead as they dropped water scooped up from barragens (nearby dams), abated shortly before dawn as the situation was brought under control. Noticiasaominuto website reports that the threat of flames spreading has been stymied by the work of JCB’s clearing forestland, and now it is just down to a general dampening operation.
As one resident commented on Facebook: “Obrigada bombeiros!”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com