Back in action, firefighters in São Teotónio today: Image: Miguel A Lopes/ Lusa
Back in action, firefighters in São Teotónio today: Image: Miguel A Lopes/ Lusa

Odemira fire flares up again: dominated again

Hot spots reignited in borough of São Teotónio

With winds blowing strong throughout Sunday, hot spots remaining from the Odemira fire – classified as ‘in conclusion’ two days ago – reignited. 

The spots, between Delfeira and Relva Grande – both in the borough of São Teotónio, where the fire began eight days ago – flared up early this afternoon, and were quickly brought under control by firefighters remaining on the ground on ‘supervision duties’.

Four water-carrying aircraft were called in, and within a matter of hours, the fires were once again classified as ‘dominated

But the dangers of flare-ups persist, due not just to the intensity of the fires that ravaged the area, but to the strong winds that are blowing.

Today’s fire, for example, encroached into ‘non-burnt land’ within the 50km perimeter created to contain this fire that has caused ‘incalculable damages’ (burning many ‘off grid’ homes and communities that have not been mentioned in the wider media reports).

Also today, Minister for Territorial Cohesion, Ana Abrunhosa, was in Odemira (São Miguel, São Teotónio – the area where the fire began) to discuss support to come from the government.

She said that a survey of the damage caused by the fire will be done until September 12.

“It is time to make a rigorous survey of losses, and receive some information and planning support”, she told reporters after attending a meeting at the São Miguel Sociocultural Centre, conceding that the government doesn’t yet have “the exact numbers of permanent housing and tourist units” destroyed by the flames, “not even the absolute certainty of the hectares that burned.

“When we create the measures, we have to have a reliable survey of losses”, because “the supports are money from our taxes and we also have to be accountable”, she added.

Jarring a little with the guarantee given by the agriculture minister on Friday, Ms Abrunhosa said that she ‘recognised that people suffered’ in this blaze, and are “in a hurry to be helped”, but the government cannot create measures of support “as if it had unlimited resources, and without knowing what is at stake…”

She also stressed that government support is intended for “who has insurance” and will be “for the part that is not covered” – again, rather a curious explanation at this point.

Ms Abrunhosa seemed to suggest that the government can use the EU RRP (recovery and resilience plan) to ‘create an integrated forest management area’, as well as funds from Portugal 2030 to ‘recover biodiversity in the area affected by the fire.

“In the case of permanent housing, there is a measure that is always open, which is the Porta de Entrada, through the Institute of Housing and Urban Rehabilitation (IHRU),” she added.

At the end of the meeting, accompanied by the mayors of Odemira and Aljezur, the minister visited Odeceixe, says Lusa, “and observed, from a high point, the destruction caused by fire”, which has been calculated as having burnt around 8,400 hectares.

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