As you are probably aware, we had a large wild wire start very close to the Quinta one week ago (Blog Posts : Day 1 & Day 2). One week on and all that remains (apart from the odd smouldering areas) is a totally devastated area.
Although a large fire, this fire is not on the same scale as some previous fires (you may remember my video Consequência from 2018), however, having it so close to your home really enforces the reality of how serious these fires can get.
I have made a short film to bring you the scenes of the devastation these fires cause. Although this area will recover in time, the many Cork Oaks that have been destroyed can not be replaced in for a generation. It is not until you view the size of the area from above that you realise just how quickly an area can be destroyed and when I first saw these scenes it really made it a reality on how lucky we were to have the wind moving this in the opposite direction to the house.
I have also taken the opportunity to raise some awareness for the fantastic voluntary work the “Assoçiação para Alerta de Incêndio Florestal” that Debby Burton and her team (of which I am proud to be a committee member) carry out to support both the local community and the amazing Bombeiros (firefighters). Please visit the Assoçiação para Alerta de Incêndio Florestal Website for more information and of course, donations are always welcome.
There is some information about some of the scenes below the film. Just for your info, the film does start silent until the title screen.
After checking around midnight, I went to sleep knowing the fire was under control. This morning, they have done an amazing job to tame it and now just hot spots remain on the ground.
Air support was back dropping water on the hot spots and also a small flare up when the wind suddenly changed to a Southerly, as forecast. However, it looks like it is now under full control and currently there are no active fronts burning.
The photos show both the devastation to the local Cork Oak Trees and also some of the amazing Bombeiros and Pilots still at the scene. Some photos may appear to be slightly out of focus, they are not this is the incredible heat haze rising from the torched ground.
A few months ago we had lightening hit close to the house and jump through our Earth rods and arched across to the telephone cable causing a lot of damage to electronics attached to our home network. Today, we had what everyone fears living in Portugal, a fire close to the house. It was a big one that got large quickly. It started 1km from the house, but luckily the wind was pushing it away from us. At time of writing this, the fire is still burning, but seems to be under control so hopefully we can sleep easy tonight.
I was at a nearby ridge, in complete safety, streaming a live Facebook video and also managed to take a few photos whilst I was up there. This first one was heartbreaking to see this Bee-keeper rushing to collect all his hives as a small front approached over a nearby ridge. He managed to remove all of the hives before the fire came.
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.