Almost 2 weeks have passed since the fires of Monchique were finally extinguished. Once the fires were out, I made a trip around the locally burnt areas and was shocked at just how large an area was affected and the amount of devastation left behind, I was (and still am) genuinely saddened by the scenes. I was determined to try and capture the scale of what happened to the almost 28,000 hectares burnt within just 7 days.
It has taken a fair amount of filming and editing to bring you “Consequência – Depois dos Incêndios” which translates to “Consequence – After the Fires”. Up until yesterday, I was still filming and still you can see areas of ash with smoke rising and occasionally there seems to be small flare-ups in the areas, particularly around Monchique. As you will see in the film, some of the ground has white ash spots or holes where trees once stood and have completely vanished. Other areas have an eerie beauty, such as the Eucalyptus trees with their scorched leaves, at first they appear to be stunning Autumn colours, of course, they are not.
Feel free to share this YouTube video, however, one thing I strongly ask is it is not used in any political argument about how bad or good the emergency services dealt with the situation. I did not create this film with any bias towards either side of the argument. For the record though, I am amazed at how well properties have been saved. The video is available in both HD and 4K if you have the Internet bandwidth and/or equipment to play it in those resolutions.
The devastation fires have long gone, although there are still patches smoking and a couple of flare-ups still occurring, and I’ve finally captured Drone footage from many areas inside the burnt area.
The scale and size of destruction is so large that I want to be able to show others just how large this fire was. It will now take a few days to edit all the clips into a short video titled “Consequência – depois dos incêndios”, which translates to “Consequence – after the fires”.
Here is a quick photo I snapped whilst the drone was hovering above an almost totally destroyed Eucalyptus area near Monchique.
After starting on just after 1:30pm on Friday 3rd August and devastating over 23,000 hectares (probably much higher than this figure), it’s all over! The status is now officially “Em Conclusão” (in conclusion).
This means the authorities are happy that all fires are out and re-ignitions are unlikely.
No doubt the political arguments will now begin (actually they already had) which is something I’m not getting involved in. But what I will say is that it’s amazing that no human life was lost and property damage appears to be low considering the amount of area that has burnt. No doubt countless wildlife was destroyed and of course a lot of agricultural land lost, but in time this will recover.
UPDATE! The latest area consumed is now said to be 27,000 hectares.
UPDATE: My entire video shoot titled “Consequência – Depois dos Incêndios” is now available to view HERE
A small area near to São Marcos da Serra, Talurdo saw the closest fire to our location. I documented this on the 8th August. Yesterday (10th August) I returned to the scene to capture some Drone footage. I didn’t get as much as I intended as there was a large presence of Army and Bombeiros on standby and I didn’t want to annoy anyone. You can also notice in the distance a fire-fighting plane on one of the clips. A hotspot had ignited and they called in air-support. Once I saw planes in the vicinity, I grounded the Drone.
The area here used to be Cork Oak and , I believe, Medronho Trees. Some of the Cork Oaks maybe lucky, but many are lost and irreplaceable in our lifetime.
If I’m completely honest, I had at least one tear in my eye editing this clip. Please feel free to share this blog and/or the YouTube but if you intend to use in the media, please contact me first.
The greatest news possible today, the fires are now classed as “Em Resoluçao”, which means “In Resolution”. They have finally conquered this monster. Bright blue skies have returned to the Algarve and the sound of helicopters and planes have disappeared, all with the exception of a few small flare-ups to contend with.
I took a trip up to Talurdo which is where I was photographing on Wednesday to see the devastation left behind. There is a small farm in Talurdo and it is very near to where the fires passed through, they were lucky, the fire chose a different path and missed them completely. There are a lot of Bombeiros and Army stationed at Talurdo (and all over the fire area) until they can finally say “Em Conclusão”, so I didn’t want to annoy anyone. I did send the drone up, but the return of the planes for a distant small fire meant I stopped, I will share this footage soon. Once everything dies down, I will send it up again to bring you some views of the devastation.
For now, here are some photos I took. It was amazing to hear Beetles and Crickets amongst the ash, Swallows, Swifts and Martins flying around and also a lot of Butterflies, isn’t amazing how nature deals with this. As you can see, this area has no Eucalyptus, there are a lot of Cork Oak Trees that have been destroyed. I noticed many trees that had their cork harvested this year, these trees had no defence.
In case you are wondering which area this is, I have created a Custom Google Map which shows you. This is just a tiny portion of the whole fire area.
After what has been an horrific week of fires, the latest update is that although still active, there are no fronts. Finally the monster has been slayed! Of course, there could still be re-ignitions, but for now, the area is a little more calmer and we are due a humid night which will help.
Just look at this fire map which shows the entire area burnt over the last 7 days. The last figure I read was 23,000 hectares and this was a couple of days ago so is likely much larger now. To put it into perspective, Cardiff (the entire city, not just the centre) is just over 13,000 hectares! Whilst we were safe in the São Marcos da Serra area during the whole ordeal, I can’t help but think “what if the wind changed to a South-westerly?”……….?