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Monchique fire "95% extinguished" - 20,000 hectares destroyed

FireMonchique2018After more than three days, the Monchique fire is under control and nearly out with 95% of its area now reported as extinguished.

The fire has torn through nearly 20,000 hectares of the Serra de Monchique, starting in countryside to the north of Vila de Monchique, hitting the outskirts of the town and leaping to the south side late last night, causing the evacuation of the Macdonald Hotel, Caladas de Monchique and other villages, destroying homes in its path.

The fire started in the Monchique Council area, sweeping north into the Alentejo's Odemira municipality and east into the Silves countryside.

The authorities are conducting assessments of the buildings that have been destroyed,  numbers will be released later.

The head of the District Commission for Civil Protection, Jorge Botelho, "There are first and second homes that have been affected by fire, we will see if they are habitable.”

Botelho said that the authorities are working so that normality can be restored, “for those people who have been evacuated from their homes.”

There have been injuries, 25 at the last count, one of which is severe.

The District Commander for Relief Operations, Vítor Vaz Pinto, explained that 95% of the perimeter "now has no active flames," but there are, "some hot spots that deserve concern."

"The fact that we can not operate with aerial support in these areas makes it difficult as there's no land accesses to ensure that there will not re-ignitions," added the Commander.

Vaz Pinto said that an operation at dawn today was to extinguish a 13 kilometre fire front using machines - ariel support could not operate due to the thick smoke covering the area.

The Commander said the remaining 5% of the fire front was "in areas inaccessible to land crews."

There still are problem areas which, if not tackled, could see fires restarting, notably on the Fóia road along which people have been evacuated. On Monday afternoon, 1,173 firefighters were on the ground, supported by 358 vehicles and 14 aircraft.

Monchique Mayor Rui André, speaking to Sul Informação, said there may have been some deaths as people are known to have hidden rather than be evacuated and later may have burnt to death.

This Monchique fire, shown across the world by international media, was far more complicated to fix than those in 2003 and 2004, although, as far as the burnt area is concerned, the number is far behind the 45,000 hectares that burned then.

 

SEE UPDATE:'Monchique fire reignites - "it's impossible to fight" Monchique fire reignites - "it's impossible to fight"

 

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