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PM claims Monchique fire is the "exception that confirms the success" of his national strategy

candlesPortugal's Prime Minister said today that the Monchique fire is the exception that confirms the success of the national firefighting operation.

António Costa, who this morning chaired a National Civil Protection Association meeting, explained the complexity of the Monchique fire’s six day run with a comment worthy of Eric Cantona,

"The candle of a birthday cake we can all blow out with one breath, but when the flame rises and the fire gains strength, there are not enough breaths or days of work" (to put it out).*

Costa warned that, "We still have several days ahead until the fire is extinguished."

António Costa - at last taking note of the five days of gruelling firefighting that has pushed Bombeiros to their physical limit - considered it a positive that "there is no human life to mourn, only a small number of wounded and the number of buildings affected remains uncertain.”

The PM is convinced that the government’s scrub clearance and fire prevention strategy has been worth it and that, "the data is very clear, the country's ability to predict risk situations has been demonstrated over the past few days. ... Of the more than 582 ignitions, we only had 16 fires, of which only one fire has attracted the attention of the media and the authorities. This demonstrates that the system has responded."

Costa also warned that in these situations, "there are two dangerous attitudes: first, an excess of optimism, which underplays the danger; second, alarmism which leads people to act in an inappropriate way."

Therefore, warns the head of Government, "We all have to be very careful in how the information is managed."

The prime minister also appealed to the public to follow the instructions issued by the authorities, in particular over evacuations where some homeowners have been led away in handcuffs as they refused to abandon their properties,

"I would like to stress to everyone, which is essential for the preservation of human life, to reduce the risk of personal accidents and follow the instructions of the authorities. When they call for evacuation, the authorities are not violating the Constitution or the law, they are ensuring the greatest most precious thing that exists, which is life."

The head of government also said he was aware that this fire was the first big test in a "summer that started late and brutally" and that no one knows when the fire will end.

On the Monchique fire that has now torn into rural areas of Silves, Costa said the fire remains active because it has "own characteristics that have to do with the terrain."

“We will not have the illusion that the fire will be erased in the next few hours. It will not be. The conditions will be adverse - whether it's temperature, wind, or humidity. "

The prime minister said the priority continues to be the preservation of human life and homes.

According to the European Forest Fire Information System, the flames have already consumed more than 21,300 hectares. In 2003, a large fire destroyed about 41,000 hectares in the Monchique, Portimão, Aljezur and Lagos council areas.


* What the PM actiuually said:  “A vela de um bolo de aniversário todos nós o apagamos com um sopro, mas quando a chama se alarga e os incêndios ganham uma escala com esta dimensão, não basta os sopros nem alguns dias de trabalho.” “Ainda temos vários dias pela frente até o incêndio ser extinto.”



Smoke blocks out the sun, looking west from Olhão - ©Milo Endres 2018


Safe Communities Portugal has the following official information for readers:

Monchique fire protection advice from the government:

and download this .pdf file 'Safe Village Safe People - Protecting yourself against rural fires'


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+10 #12 Lesley Johnson 2018-08-09 09:46
In Madeira, they have stopped planting eucalyptus because of fire risk. At least they learned from their own disaster!
+6 #11 Charly 2018-08-09 09:05
May I recommend:
1. make today a legislative order to clear the country of all euchalytus trees
2. make the assessment of all damages (last year + this year) and send the invoice to the ad hoc euchalyptus company
3. forbid anyone still to nurse euchalyptus trees in the country
4. Civil protection should make the assessment of all failiures in relation to fire protection (contracts with sub contractors + communications + equipment + manhood + transportations + coordination + …..)
5. Civil protection should be put under the direct authority of the president of the republic as it seems that neither the national gov as the local govs as the camaras are able to manage and to finance and finally guarantee the security of the nation.
6. Negociations should be started immediately with EU in order to obtain substancial help (and funds) to realise all this.

IMPORTANT: the most important factor today is "TIME" …. because we have to think of the next 2019 fires in the Monchique and elsewhere. That's wat is called: planning and management (in civilised countries).
+8 #10 Amanda S B 2018-08-09 07:36
HI have a home in.the Tiny village of TAIPAS which was hit by this inferno last Friday.. Unfortunately the mobile network is so bad that it can only be accessed from the top of the hill behind us and very patchy at best... however, in spite of trying for more than 2 years to have a landline or sate
llite phone installed we are told we can only have one if we sign up for the whole broadband wi fi package regardless that. at present they are services not yet available in remote mountainous areas. Had.we got a terrestrial line the emergency services could have been mobilised much sooner..A telephone is no longer a luxury as it was 40 years ago it is a necessary tool in emergencies. I will continue to argue my case against the Rip Off policy of communication companies and intend to take my case as high as necessary ..It is my civil right to have a phone and the responsibility of the communications industry to ensure the technical framework is in place for me to recieve the products we are expect to pay for but cannot access.
+13 #9 Amanda S B 2018-08-09 07:16
The fact the the local authorities and general public made monumental efforts to clear land around homes is not a reason to pay their own backs..Wildfires will always be a threat but the present habit of vast densly planted eucalyptus plantations needs drastic change and close monitoring. Planting so close to.towns and villages must be stopped also planting along the sides of roads especially in remote mountainous areas amounts to manslaughter preventing escape for those with only one way out.. Lessons must be learned ..Perhaps advice from countries like Australia that have already found out the terrible risks of planting highly flammable crops in high concentration.. I.understand that the income gained from the eucalyptus industry but this is not a species indigenous to Portugal and serious consideration is needed to regulate the industry.
+15 #8 nogin the nog 2018-08-09 02:36
This guy is about as far from the reality of this situation as is possible. The facts are this government has had plenty of time to fund the fire brigade properly and provide real leadership. Instead they have sat back and passed the buck to under funded local councils.
God help these fire men as this government will not..
+14 #7 marjolein Massis 2018-08-09 00:01
If we refuse to blow out the ONE CANDLE on the birthday cake because we use our breaths to just talk, we are responsible for the inferno around us.
+8 #6 dw 2018-08-08 23:36
Failure is proof of success, black is white, up is down, and neoliberal austerity is "Socialist".
+10 #5 RCK 2018-08-08 22:55
Seriously? I suppose, if you search hard enough, there is bound to be the odd person here & there amongst us Minnions who will be convinced by the PM’s defence of the Government’s scrub clearance and fire prevention strategy. It’s all smoke & mirrors though if you ask me.
+16 #4 Laurinda 2018-08-08 22:48
" ... alarmism which leads people to act in an inappropriate way." The ballot box next year is going to talk loud and clear.

What an asshole, what socks has he been smoking, or better who's behind all the BS coming out of his mouth? We seeing the results of his F...d up policies ... success?

Blimy I'm furious ... what a display of the lack of leadership that is leading this beautiful country down the drain ... (and applies to all big political parties not just PS)
+18 #3 BrunoG 2018-08-08 22:38
An extra emergency tax of 23% on all profits from the paper industry for the following 5 yrs to pay for the cost of equiping the bombeiros and making forests managable with an objective to reduce the fire risks?

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