Agriculture officials in Algarve 'standing by' to survey fire damage

By TPN/Lusa, in News · 09-08-2018 15:26:00 · 0 Comments
Agriculture officials in Algarve 'standing by' to survey fire damage

The regional directorate of agriculture and fisheries in Portugal’s Algarve region on Thursday announced that it already has teams all set to start surveying damage caused to forest and agricultural holdings by the fire that started on Friday In Monchique.

The fire has since spread to two other municipalities - Silves and Portimão - with several "hot spots" still a concern for firefighters and civil defence teams. As yet the conditions are not in place on the ground for government experts to move in to start their survey of affected areas, the regional director of services and investments, Júlio Cabrito, told Lusa.

"We have a team taking the first steps and bringing people together at [the directorate’s] premises in Portimão, even taking advantage of the experience from other fires, to be readu in operational terms when orders are given at a higher level, for them to start the survey,” said Cabrito.

There is, he stressed, “still no concrete data on the losses", but in Monchique "the main activity is forestry", although there are "also family vegetable gardens, agricultural buildings, warehouses, implements and machinery that may have been affected.”

Also in the Monchique hills, he noted, there are distilleries that make traditional local spirit of medronho, while the municipality has a fair number of pig herds, with significant manufacture of and trade in related products.

In Silves, agricultural production is more varied, encompassing also fruit orchards – although in these the fire is less likely to advance. In particular, the traditional local carob tree “is a species that helps to stop fire”, unlike eucalyptus and pines.

Since it started on Friday, Cabrito noted, the fire has consumed some 23,000 hectares, according to data from the European Union’s forest fire information system – that is, more than half the total area of Monchique municipality, which is 39,000 hectares.

More than 1,000 firefighters were on Thursday contining to battle the blaze, which has spread to Silves, Portimão and Odemira, in the neighbouring Alentejo region.

According to operational commanders, 36 people have been injured in the fire, one of them seriously, and 299 people have been displaced, after the evacuation of several villages and isolated homesteads.

On Tuesday, the fifth day of fire, national civil defence commanders took over operational control of the effort, which was previously under district commanders.


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