For some 30 years, fires in Spain and Portugal have been destroying 200-400 thousand hectares of forests, fields and pastures yearly!! Since 2004, after a terrible fire in Monchique, I have been suggesting ways to prevent and avoid them.
First in the weekly Avezinha, then in Barlavento, shortly after in EXPRESSO, later in PUBLICO, NEGOCIOS, OJE, VIDA ECONOMICA.
Yearly, for 18 years, I have been telling newer techniques. First I said about cameras on high, light composite-poles, at the top of mountains, with photovoltaic energy at bottom, turning 360º and sending high quality pictures to a central computer which uses a software to indicate an ignition, which sends an alarm signal to closest firefighters.
Then I wrote about integration of those pictures with top-quality online data from weather, measuring forecast winds, temperature and drought in each valley. In case of URGENT ALARM, a small firefighter truck would wait at that valley, ready to stop a small ignition with a few extinguishers. Instead of waiting at their building, they would wait at the site.
As not every hectare would be covered by those cameras, drones would be flying in other areas, sending the same kind of pictures, with the same software.
In 2019, I wrote about the use of heavy drones, which take some 150-200kg which, could reach the ignition much quicker than helicopters, flying close to the fire (electric engines, no risk to burn jetfuel) and leaving not only water, but a special mix, used in California.
In 2006 I wrote that, according to the police, when neighbours tell them about potential ignitions, 58% of occasions were criminal. But, according to the police, they are usually oldies or crazies who are freed by the judge or get only a few months. BUT their adult children or spouses a few months later build huge homes of drive luxury cars.
The price paid by middlemen to small producers of cork or wood for the paper industry falls already a month after the fire. Those producers need money to recover their activity. The damaged wood is purchased for 20-25% of its normal price.
Two years after many of those criminal fires, a real estate speculator gets authorization, against all others earlier tries, to change that land from agricultural or forest to a residential, resort, or golf estate.
Those are the real causes for most of fires.
If government adopted the EARLY WARNING indicators, technique used in other countries, adopted a new law making it easier sending to those caught to prison, prohibiting burned land to change use, most of those large fires would diminish. Also, permitting changing of use before the fires, some of the agricultural land into large private homes, as those must keep clean a large area around them, and certainly would help retired, old ladies, to keep their surroundings clean. Who will manage to persuade the government to make changes based on these last 30 years?