In a tragic week for house fires in the Algarve, four families – one with two young children – have been left homeless and devastated, while an animal lover is also grieving the loss of several cats in her care.
One of the fires, in Bairro Pontal in Portimão on Saturday (November 11), left five people – a family of four, including two children aged three and eight, and a man in his 50s – homeless.
How the fire started is unclear. By the time firefighters arrived shortly after the blaze was reported at 1.39pm, the home of the man who lived on his own was already completely engulfed by the flames.
Authorities believe the speed with which the house was destroyed by the flames was due to the highly inflammable materials it was built with, such as wood and asbestos cement.
The flames also spread to a neighbouring house where the family of four lived.
The man has been provided accommodation at a local hostel by municipal civil protection services, while the family is staying with family members.
As firefighters were unable to determine the cause of the fire, PJ police were called to investigate.
The Tertúlias café near the Continente shopping centre in Portimão has announced it has set up a donation box to help the family affected by the fire. Anyone willing to help can visit or contact the café.
Meanwhile on Monday, CMTV reported on another domestic fire that destroyed a house in the rural area of Cotifo in Lagos.
Owner Francisco told CMTV that the fire “destroyed almost everything” and is believed to have started due to a faulty heater.
No one was injured as the man’s wife was able to rescue his mother from the house but, as he told CMTV, “there is a long road ahead to rebuild our lives”.
Cats die in fire; animal lover left devastated
The other fire also happened on Saturday (November 11) at the Silves property of an animal foster carer who volunteers for Amigos dos Gatos do Algarve (AGA) animal charity, resulting in the death of several cats.
The Resident has contacted Ellie Diamond, the devastated animal lover who, due to the harsh nature of what has happened and the logistics of dealing with this kind of tragedy, was unable to comment further before we went to press.
However, AGA has provided further information on the blaze.
The association has confirmed the death of a “number of cats and kittens” due to the “speed and ferocity of the fire at our AGA foster carer’s property”.
Among them were “kittens” that were being “hand reared and socialised to get ready for adoption”, AGA says. The exact number of cats that have died is unknown.
The cause of the fire is also under investigation.
As the association has pointed out, “the property has been totally destroyed by the fire, nothing remains.
“This is a tragic loss for our carer and for the rest of our volunteer community who have worked tirelessly over the last few months to nurture and facilitate adoption of cats and kittens, whilst continuing their TNR and Emergency requests for help,” it adds.
Updates posted on AGA’s Facebook page show that some of the cats, which were able to escape the flames and flee, have started returning to the property, and there is hope that others will continue to return.
It is a silver lining to what has otherwise been a horror story for the carer and AGA.
“Fortunately, our foster carer was not physically harmed by the fire. However, this event has been deeply traumatic as she was there when the fire took place, she tried in vain to save her own cats along with the AGA kittens. It will be some time before she is able to rebuild her life and her property,” the charity explains.
Meanwhile, AGA has launched an online fundraising campaign to help the carer rebuild her home and also continue to help kittens once she has “recovered from this tragic event”. It can be found online at https://www.agacatcharity.com/product-page/fire-appeal
A fundraiser entitled ‘After the Fire – Help Ellie Diamond’ has also been launched on Facebook and had already raised €505 at the time of writing.
By MICHAEL BRUXO