From January until October 31st this year the Algarve’s Bombeiros have attended 550 countryside fires, luckily most of them small ones (the fires, not the Bombeiros) and the police arrested 23 people and charged them with arson, one was caught in the act.
Data from the National Authority for Civil Protection (ANPC) released today at a press conference in Faro showed that despite the seemingly high number of fires the total was 28% down on 2012 with most fires destroying less than 1 hectare (54%).
Most fires were on farm land with a small percentage in forests. Of the total area burnt, 576 hectares, 78% was from the fire in Chabouco, Lagos which lasted 12 hours before being tamed. All of the other fires were of 50 hectares or less according to Antonio Miranda of the Institute of Conservation of Nature and Forests who presented an overview of the Algarve fires for the year.
The leading cause of fires in 2013 was through the negligence of famers when burning rubbish, campers when lighting campfires, motorists when discarding cigarette butts, and beekeeping activities. There were also accidental fires from farm machinery and equipment, and of course there was arson.
Of the 31 identified arsonists, 28 have been charged and three were considered unfit to stand trial due to age of mental illness. The worst day of the year was June 16 when ten fires were dealt with and the average response time was an impressive 32 minutes.