The mayors of Oleiros, Fernando Marques Jorge (PSD), of Proença-a-Nova, João Lobo (PS), and of Castelo Branco, José Augusto Alves (PS), sent a letter to the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, some ministers and secretaries of state to recall "the extensive damage suffered" following the fire that devastated part of these three municipalities in the district of Castelo Branco between 13 and 16 September.
In the letter, to which the Lusa agency had access, the mayors warned of the urgent measures and support that must be taken following what was considered to be the biggest forest fire in Europe this year.
"In this fire, many inhabitants who practised subsistence farming lost their vegetable gardens, orchards, vineyards and pet food. The houses did not burn down, although several of them suffered significant damage to windows, doors and roofs, as well as facades. Several agricultural annexes did burn down", reads the letter.
They also warn of the existence of several residents in need of social and psychological support, which has been given by teams from the town councils.
The three mayors mention the destruction of many municipal infrastructures, from roads to signposts, and stress that, with the arrival of rains, "a large quantity of coal will run to the dams that supply immense settlements, including in Lisbon, and there is still the danger of landslides", which can cause "immense accidents".
"For all of this, money, that the affected municipalities do not have, is needed, and they expect the solidarity of the central government to minimise all these enormous losses," they said.
Fernando Marques Jorge, João Lobo and José Augusto Alves highlight and recall measures previously taken in other fires that could be an aid to their municipalities and populations, namely simplified support to restore agricultural potential up to five thousand Euros per owner.
They also ask that the burnt wood be subsidised, as well as the exemption from IRS for owners who will be forced to sell the wood or that the money received from the burnt wood can be included in the IRS in several years (they suggest 10 years).
The mayors also want support, either through the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA), the Centre's Commission for Coordination and Regional Development (CCDRC) or even the relevant Ministry, to restore the infrastructure destroyed in this fire.
They are calling for support for the replanting of burnt medronho trees and for the burnt fences, and for a road connection between Castelo Branco and Oleiros, thus allowing the costs of raw materials produced in the municipality of Oleiros to be reduced, reducing the distance by about 20 kilometres and helping to combat depopulation.
Besides the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister, the letter was also sent to the Ministers for Cohesion, the Environment, Infrastructure and Agriculture and to the Secretaries of State for Forests and Local Authorities.