Suspected arsonists arrested

Judicial Police officers have detained a couple suspected of starting at least four fires in the concelho of Almodôvar recently. One of the couple also ventured to the concelhos of Silves, Loulé and São Brás de Alportel. The alleged arsonists, aged 22 and 42, apparently carried out the fires out of revenge against the landowners where they live.

PJ officers had been gathering evidence in the area since last Monday, the day the fires broke out. One of those held is already in preventative detention, while the other will appear in court shortly.The fire raged intensely for more than five days and was only fully brought under control last Friday afternoon. These two latest detentions raise the number of people arrested since the beginning of the year on suspicion of arson to 33 – 21 of whom were detained during July alone.

Minister notes

‘strange aspect’ of fires

The news comes as Carlos Martins, Assistant Secretary of State for Tourism, was quoted as saying that there were “many strange aspects” to the way that the recent fires developed in the Algarve. Although he refused to make specific allegations, because these “are the responsibility of the relevant bodies”, Martins referred to unusual and suspicious circumstances.

In particular, he alluded to the recent fire that devastated the Gambelas area, lying within the protected area of Faro’s Ria Formosa, near Faro Airport, and the site of a branch of the Algarve University. He noted that the fires, once extinguished, quickly seemed to start elsewhere. “When the fire was being controlled, some kilometres ahead another fire sprung up and then, a little later, a new front emerged in the same wood in the direction of Quarteira.” Martins also noted ‘”strange” aspects to other fires in Castro Marim and Monchique.

During his trip to the Algarve to oversee the operation against the fire, Martins held meetings with the Civil Governor and with the director of Faro Airport. He praised the work of both firefighters and the local population. “Everyone is giving 100 per cent. They are doing an excellent job,” he said.

Fire watch: Turn to page 4