A regular topic of conversation in the cafes and bars at the moment is fires. It seems there have been between 1 –10 fires occurring somewhere, on any given day throughout the last couple of months. A hot summer and no rain since April have left the land tinder dry. It does not take much for a fire to start, and with all the pine and eucalyptus trees around it soon takes hold.
In this area it has been especially bad around the area of Arganil/ Coja, although many other places such as Lousa, Serpins, and Colmeal have also suffered.
Last week end I went with a friend to check on their land, which is about 5 kms outside Arganil, and close to where a large fire had been. They were lucky that the land had not been burned, although the fire had come within ½ a km. As we drove around the back roads, it was sad to see the extent of the damage. Hundreds of acres had been burned, and the ground was still smoking in places.
The fire service did an amazing job in controlling and putting out the fire. Fire trucks came from many areas near and far to fight the fire through the day and night. In the day light they also had the use of helicopters and a fire plane. No one was killed, thank goodness, and no houses lost. Some properties had come pretty close though. We saw sheds and chicken pens that had succumbed to the flames, and blackened ground just a couple of metres away from some houses.
Coming from The UK, where it never seems to go more than a week without rain you forget how easily a fire can start. Actions that have little consequence in rainy Britain, such as throwing a cigarette end out of a car window, or mowing the lawn, can start a fire in seconds here. So please be aware of what you are doing if you are here on holiday in the Summer months or if like me you are now living in Portugal.
I heard a story the other day about a man who was strimming his field in the Summer a few years ago and started a fire behind him. At first he was unaware what was happening behind him, until it was too late and the fire service had to be called. I must admit I would not have known that strimming with a metal strimmer was a fire hazard, and could have been in the same situation . But I do now !