UPDATE: Monchique fire started “by accident” as man cleared land around property

A fire that broke out in Monchique yesterday was brought under control before nightfall. Mayor Rui André explained that it started “by accident” while a man was clearing land around his property – precisely to avoid the spread of fires.

On his Facebook page, the Monchique mayor explained that the blaze broke out due to some kind of malfunction with the man’s brushcutter.

The man was unable to put out the fire and the flames quickly spread.

“I was at the site myself and spoke to the man and shared his sadness and concern about what had happened,” André wrote.

Authorities were alerted at 3.11pm and the battles against the blaze lasted around four hours before firefighters were able to bring it under control.

According to Portugal’s civil protection website, a total of 129 firefighters are still at the site this morning to ensure the fire does not reignite.

The flames consumed a forest area of eucalyptus trees in Chã da Casinha, located northwest of the town of Monchique, near the border separating the Algarve and Alentejo.

Although this particular fire is not being blamed on any specific species of tree, Rui André says the council has removed eucalyptus trees from the public areas that it has jurisdiction over.

“In these areas, we have planted more resilient native species. We hope others will follow this example, particularly in locations where the need to remove trees is evident, not only eucalyptus trees but others that put the lives of people and their possessions at risk.”

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Photo: Camilla Bergman/Ass. Alerta de Incendio Florestal