“Worst fire season in living memory” spares Algarve

It may have been the worst fire season in living memory for the north and centre of Portugal, but so far the Algarve has got off ‘lightly’.

It is the region of the country that has registered the least amount of damage caused by forest wildfires, of which there have only been 25.

Says tabloid Correio da Manhã, “one has to go back to 2011 to find a year with less area consumed by flames in the region”.

According to a report by the ICNF (institute for forestry and nature conservation) there have been a total of 238 ‘outbreaks’ this year, of which only 25 developed into what could be termed a serious forest fire.

Of these, 165 hectares of land were consumed.

Compared to last year, the number of outbreaks was higher, but land consumed was so much lower.

In 2016’s 180 outbreaks, 6,496 hectares of land were ‘consumed’ (burnt black) – most during the terrible fires that raged for days in and around Monchique, spreading all the way down the mountain towards Portimão.

But the Algarve’s good news has to be offset by this year’s dismal record nationally: 209,000 hectares devastated, 64 people killed, hundreds of homes and businesses destroyed and a bill for damages that stretches into the many millions.

Three months on from the killer fires of Pedrógão Grande, the Guardian newspaper has released a heartbreaking video which highlights the desperate struggle by so many families to rebuild their lives (click here).

Meantime, the coordination of emergency response has been a subject for heated debate – largely because so many people feel it was lacking.

Meantime, fire risks – particularly in the Algarve – remain high, with the eastern Algarve on ‘very high alert.

Rain? According to today’s long-range forecasts, it is still a long way off.

[email protected]