The mayor of Guarda, Sérgio Costa, stated "We demand the decree of calamity for the entire area of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park with immediate effect and the elaboration of a revitalization plan for our park," after a joint meeting with mayors of Covilhã, Celorico da Beira, Gouveia, Seia and Manteigas.
The Serra da Estrela is being affected by a fire that started on 6 August in Garrocho, in the municipality of Covilhã (district of Castelo Branco) and was given as dominated on Saturday, 13 August, but suffered a reactivation on Monday. It was considered again dominated on Wednesday evening.
The flames spread to the district of Guarda, in the municipalities of Manteigas, Gouveia, Guarda and Celorico da Beira, and also reached the municipality of Belmonte, in the district of Castelo Branco.
After a joint meeting at the Town Hall of Manteigas, Sérgio Costa, who was speaking to journalists on behalf of the six municipalities covered by the PNSE, said that that revitalisation plan will have to be "at the level of forest reordering, landscape, water and tourism".
"The urgent and immediate support to the agricultural sector, livestock and forestry exploitation" are other demands of the locals that in today's meeting, pointed at a loss of "hundreds of millions of euros" for which they are requesting financial support.
"If we count all the burnt area, all the destroyed forest in all our natural park, the houses that burned, the farm animals, the food for the animals, be it the pasture, be it the agricultural stores, the food that was stored it is a huge loss", he justified.
The mayor added, "there are immediate measures that should be implemented for the short term", such as "the state of calamity, which has to be immediately [decreed], because it only makes sense when a disaster is happening".
Sérgio Costa argued that this fire "is a real tragedy for the region and for the Serra da Estrela Natural Park".
"The priority treatment of the hydrographical basins of [the river] Zêzere and [the river] Mondego, avoiding that the whole basin of the Tagus valley and lower Mondego, from where much water is extracted to supply millions of people, are affected by water contamination", is another measure demanded.
The mayor explained that water could be affected "as a result of erosion and contamination of the soil and water lines" that "reach the major centres of the country", supplied through Castelo de Bode and Aguieira.
"You can imagine the damage that all this may cause indirectly," Sérgio Costa said, pointing out that the Castelo de Bode dam is located in Tomar, in the Santarém district, and the Aguieira dam in Mortágua, in the district of Viseu.
The local authorities also demanded "the approval of short-term measures for the emergency stabilisation of the soils and slopes affected by the fire and the recovery of road and other infrastructures, including telecommunications and water supply.”
As for the area affected by the fire, the mayor said that it is the government bodies that are counting, but pointed to "more than 20 thousand hectares", hoping that this number does not increase, taking into account the forecast of rising temperatures in the coming days.
The local politicians are waiting for "the fire to be considered extinct so that the independent commission, with the presence of the municipalities, can investigate what went wrong in this matter". "We want both the hot and cold spots to be monitored very closely, and immediately extinguished, when necessary” they added.
In today's meeting were the mayors of Covilhã, Guarda, Manteigas and Celorico da Beira, the deputy mayor of Gouveia and the councillor for Environment of Seia, the only one of the six municipalities not affected by the fire.