Monchique fire victims band together and make plea for support

Victims of the devastating fire that ravaged Monchique last summer have created an association to demand financial compensation from the government.

The association is named ‘Associação dos Lesados do Incêndio de Monchique’ (ALIM – association of Monchique’s fire victims) and has 30 members who aim to bring together the many hundreds of people who lost their houses, land, crops and animals to the flames.

“Nothing was learned from the tragedy of Pedrógão Grande nor from the fire that destroyed Monchique in 2003,” says José Gonçalves, the president of Alferce parish council who also heads the new association.

He complains that the measures presented by the government are not adequate as they encourage victims of the fire to invest but do not offer any support to compensate victims for what they have lost.

The association has already contacted the Ministry for the Environment and other state entities which have responded that they are doing “what is possible to help”. But Gonçalves is adamant that this is not enough.

ALIM also has a team of lawyers behind them – one of whom also represents the victims for Pedrógão Grande – and aims to ensure that the “perpetrators of the fire” are identified and brought to justice.

According to CM, around 600 people are believed to have been affected by the fire but only half of them applied for state support due to the “excessive bureaucracy”.

The fire broke out on August 3 in Monchique and was only brought under control a week later, having destroyed around 27,000 hectares of land in Monchique, Silves and Portimão.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com

Photo: BRUNO FILIPE PIRES/OPEN MEDIA GROUP