The following year, a pyrocumulonimbus like Portugal’s October 2017 fires collapsed in a long waterfall over flames spreading from an electrical leak in Southern California—where unchecked suburban development has crowded into the traditional fire lanes of the chaparral—killing 90 and nearly wiping the town of Paradise, California off the map. Rodrigues, then 24, stepped outside and her safety goggles immediately melted to her face; as she ripped them off, skin came with them. Every day she watches the eucalyptus grow, unchecked and illegal, bare meters from the house where they sleep. Image copyright EPA. The majority of deaths took place in the Pedrógão Grande municipality, when a fire swept across a road filled with evacuees escaping in their cars. Castellnou and Tiago Oliveira, the Portuguese national fire chief, are part of a new wave of wildland firefighters who believe that the solution is a new way of living with fire. It was high summer in 2017, and they had just crossed into the outer bands of the worst firestorm to ever hit Portugal, a presage for a new age of mega-fire that would soon stalk across landscapes from Spain to Australia. The European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) supports the services in charge of the protection of forests against fires in the EU countries and provides the European Commission services and the European Parliament with updated and reliable information on wildland fires in Europe. At the turn of the century Portugal had 2 percent tree cover; by the late 20th century it had shot up to nearly a third. The burnt area in 2017 was the second largest on record, due in particular to unprecedented forest fires in Portugal, whereas the burnt area in 2018 was the lowest on record. If it can use the fire danger to inspire a recolonization of its rural hinterlands, Oliveira says, “Portugal can be the case study for the rest of Europe.”. The burned trees reveal terracing, which shows that the forest wasn't virgin; it regrew over abandoned fields that at one point had been improved. In a sense she was right. The Portuguese Civil Protection Agency has … Our brave volunteers were prepared to put themselves into danger to rescue a variety of animals, from cats and dogs to horses and donkeys. As the chief fire scientist for Catalunya’s force of 5,000 professional firefighters, Castellnou had, like Portuguese fire chief Oliveira, become disturbed by the appearance of fires of unprecedented fury and destructive power. Hundreds of panicked weekenders and tourists, unaccustomed to the regular fires of the backcountry, fled down narrow, overgrown roads, heading for the safety of the coast. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- Iberian firefighters I spoke to describe facing fire tornadoes, or the dreaded mushroom of the pyrocumulus, in which a plume of hot air rises into the atmosphere and collapses back down, feeding the fire that started it. Aug 29, 2013. The twisting column of flame coming for her seemed unstoppable. Alerta has an amazing team from a wide variety of backgrounds, all with different skills and facilities, but we are always looking for new volunteers, both for our Facebook information page as well as fundraising and the delivering of supplies. It is a truism of the relationship between civilization and forests that where one rises, the other will fall back. Which is to say: three fast-growing tree species, packed with essential oils, each of which had evolved to spread with wildfire. Today he is director of AGIF, the Portuguese national fire control agency, but back in 2017 he was a corporate fire scientist, managing fire control for Navigator, the $1.5-billion Portuguese pulp company that grows eucalyptus in enormous plantation tracts for pulp and paper. Lisbon: Portugal has declared three days of national mourning after a forest fire triggered by thunderstorms in the north of the country killed more than 60 people, many of them fleeing in their cars. And the rural population, says Filipa Rodrigues, the former bombeira, is weaker and more demoralized than it has ever been. In 2018, 83 died in Greek fires whipped up by a similar long downburst during a summer when forest fires burned, for the first time in history, in every European country. Portugal’s feral forests may hold the secret, Photograph by Patricia de Melo Moreira, AFP/Getty Images, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/12/how-to-live-with-mega-fires-portugal-forests-may-hold-secret.html, a risk that is moving north into the unprepared lands. A series of fires ignited in the valleys around the town of Pedrógão Grande, fueled by winds that blew down off a strange and unseasonal thunderstorm like a bellows, fanning the flames into three separate, enormous flame fronts. Their Carthaginian descendants lopped off Roman spear-points with razor sharp falcata, swords made with charcoal from upland oaks. A firefighter tries to extinguish a wildfire in the village of Casais de Sao Bento in Macao in central Portugal. On 3 August at 1.32pm a fire started in the hills behind Monchique that would burn for 10 days and travel down to and beyond Silves. Normally our fundraising team would be working hard throughout the year with events such as golf days, wine tasting evenings, coffee mornings, running the Lisbon marathon, sponsored walks and auctions. In addition to our Facebook fire watch team we are always pleased to hear from people who can provide practical support in any form, including those with access to land to house evacuated livestock and empty properties for short term emergency accommodation. Portugal Forest Fires Analysis Forest fires have become a much more severe problem in many regions of the world as a result of climate change and human activities. The four-day forest fire in central Portugal has been put under control according to the country’s National Authority for Civil Protection. As some of the bombeiros, particularly those from further afield, had been wearing the same clothes for days, we also supplied T shirts and underwear. To keep energy levels up we provided cooked chickens and other meats as well as hand held food, such as energy bars and biscuits. It becomes easy, she says, to abandon land that others are already abandoning. It was, he would say later, a repeat of Chile, a replay of the “nightmare scenario” that unfolds when cold Atlantic winds meet a hot Mediterranean summer. In Proença-a-Nova, tech company Novatech has moved in from Lisbon, and dozens of young workers are now getting married and moving back onto country houses where they mow grass and tend orchards. We discovered the ANEPC page which gives all the current information on, amongst other things, wildfires across Portugal. Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print. Fire crews are still struggling to bring wildfires in the southern Algarve tourist region under control today, officials have said. Jun 19, 2017. “I had time only to think, ‘We’re going to crash,’” she says, massaging the burn marks on her arms, and then the car plowed into them, and the five volunteer firefighters stumbled out from their ruined truck into an inferno. This is happening in a few settlements. “By (Roman) antiquity,” says Pedro Bingre do Amaral, a professor of land use at the University of Coimbra, “the Portuguese landscape was almost treeless,” cut back by a series of advancing civilizations. Aug 07, 2018. We also created another branch of Alerta to liaise between the people who were being evacuated and those offering accommodation, meaning that many otherwise homeless families had a bed for the night. Castellnou and Tiago Oliveira, the Portuguese national fire chief, are part of a new wave of wildland firefighters who believe that the solution is a new way of living with fire. Portugal forest fire: 12 survive by hiding in a water tank June 19, 2017 World News Empire 0 Comment. Many drove directly into a death trap. All rights reserved. This image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite shows dozens of active fires detected by the sensor marked in red. The Romans who laboriously defeated them cleared the remaining Iberian forests for new industry: vineyards, goats, and sheep—wine, dairy, wool—and for the scaffolding and smelters of their gigantic silver mines worked by the enslaved. When the Portuguese burst outward in the early modern area, every single wooden ship sailing back and forth between Lisbon and the Estado da India or Captaincy of Bahia, carrying the wealth, slaves, and soldiers of the Portuguese Empire, required 2,000 oaks and an equivalent number of pines. Trees came up in abandoned yards and fields, crowding against the tall grass and fire-loving shrubs that dried into fuel in the summer heat. If you feel that you have something to offer, please contact us via our Facebook page or email: bombeirosalgarve@gmail.com. LISBON, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Portugal has suffered about 925 million euros ($1.05 billion) in damages from a spate of forest fires that killed 15 people, the Interior Ministry said on Friday. She blinked through the smoke at eucalyptus trees flying by, burning, in the winds of the biggest flames she had ever seen. As our contacts have become increasingly widespread we have been able to source decommissioned equipment from the UK, including infrared cameras, breathing apparatus kits, urban uniforms and boots to name a few. But the fire problem will not be solved, Oliveira says, without the evolution of a new kind of rural landscape, where people value the forest once again and defend the land from fire, because they use it again, be it for pasturing sheep and goats, or beekeeping, tourism, or small-scale biomass energy generation. This is largely due to online events and sponsorship. This figure actually represents a 31% decrease compared to the average number of wildfires in the last decade (18,923), and a 15% decrease compared to 2015. Usually night offers a respite from fire. Not now. She does not know who owns the plot, or when the next spark will come. These fires destroyed more than 10% of the country's forests and caused 18 deaths in 2003. It’s also a warning of what the future holds for Mediterranean-style ecosystems from Turkey and Spain to Greece and California as climate change drives increasingly longer dry periods. Portugal arsonists feed wildfire destruction. “And if your aim is to exclude fire from this ecosystem,” he says, “you are doomed to fail.”. Aug 16, 2017. In 2018 the Algarve was severely tested, as were the bombeiros and Alerta. They not only affect large areas and people who live nearby, every year, forest fires also release over 3000 million tones of CO2 into atmosphere, contributing to the acceleration of global greenhouse gas emissions. They came down the new greenways of vacant houses, pointed like daggers into the hearts of towns, their seeds spreading on the fierce winds that blew in from the Atlantic. Terms and Conditions All content and design is copyright Anglopress Lda and The News Group of Newspapers. But he had underestimated how quickly things were changing. “We could not fight them,” Castellnou said. Learn about deforestation rates and other land use practices, forest fires, forest communities, biodiversity and much more. The fire in Vila de Rei and Mação has burnt more than 9,500 hectares of forest, about half of this year’s burned area, according to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS). In the town of Santa Olga alone, a thousand houses burned. Portugal had the highest number of forest fires in Europe in 2016, with a total of 13,261 fires. In the last decade two forest fires occurred that covered an area of over 20,000 ha (19). “We have a problem in the highlands, and that problem is people,” says volunteer firefighter Hugo Carvalho, who worked as a mail carrier in the nearby town of Proença-a-Nova, watching as the elderly died or moved and the lights went dark. When the speeding BMW emerged out of the smoke of burning eucalyptus trees, heading straight for her firetruck, Filipa Rodrigues had no time to react. After 2017, we realised that we needed to formally become a charitable association, and the Associação para Alerta de incêndio Florestal /Forest fire Alert was born. Their cause of death, like 65 others trapped and killed that June day—the bulk of them on roads like Highway 236—was “carbonization.” Many were found, she notes, wrapped around their loved ones, their muscles tightened in their last moments by the heat of the flame. Last August, an outbreak of fires across Portugal killed four people, including three on the island of Madeira, and destroyed huge areas of forest. “No one was ever called a hero,” Oliveira says ruefully, “for averting a crisis before it happened.”. It was far from Rodrigues’s first wildfire. In teaching his firefighters, Castellnou had used the metaphor of “five generations” of wildland fire from the first, when trees began to cover whole Iberian landscapes in the early 1900s, leading to fires of unprecedented size; to the fourth, when the inrush of trees and outgrowth of suburbs conspired to place ever more people in the “wildland urban interface,” complicating any firefighting plans that had previously relied on allowing land to be triaged; to the fifth, in which simultaneous big fires strained the resources of firefighting crews. Barely five months later, he watched on a live feed from the Pedrógão Grande fire station as the flames rose above the forest that Filipa Rodrigues’s crew was driving into. France, Greece, Italy and Spain were also affected by forest fires, however to a somewhat lesser extent. Fire researchers all point to the same combination of contributing factors: shifting demographics with population moving from rural to urban areas, changes in land use with more agricultural and forested areas … The bombeiros tried to pull the BMW’s passengers out of the car—“We were screaming, screaming, but they didn’t respond”—but the heat forced them back, and they watched the flame take the BMW and its occupants. All content and design is copyright Anglopress Lda and The News Group of Newspapers, Bonfires: What you need to know in Portugal, Claim for 1.8 ME in favour of the State for fire in Monchique, Algarve voted Best Beach Destination in the world, Christmas and New Year lockdown rules explained, New state of emergency eases travel restrictions, Christmas and New Year lockdown measures to be announced, Depression Ernest affecting Portugal until Tuesday. In spite of this, we have still been able to purchase 170 uniforms and over €2,000 worth of PPE. Yet unlike the primeval forests that Phoenecian sailors found 3,000 years ago, these new forests were feral, the half-wild, escaped offspring of the tracts of Atlantic pine and imported Australian acacia and eucalyptus. These are just a few of the amazing volunteers who are prepared to drop everything and help when the fires start. She does not want to leave, but with a limited local economy, a young daughter, and a great risk of fire, she is not sure how she can stay. Published on Jul 22, 2019 More than 1,000 firefighters battled a major wildfire in central Portugal over past few days. At the same time, more European countries suffered from large forest fires in 2018 than ever before, including in … Then in January 2017, the European Commission sent him to Chile, where Castellnou saw something categorically worse than he had ever seen before: the overture to the new age of megafire. Scegli tra immagini premium su Forest Fires In Portugal della migliore qualità. Portugal forest fire: Survivor Gareth Roberts on escaping the flames A forest fire in central Portugal has killed more than 60 people. +351 282 341 100 “Today’s conditions in the Mediterranean,” he told them, “are tomorrow’s in Central Europe.”. Huge forest fire kills dozens in central Portugal - YouTube At least 24 people have reportedly been killed and several others hurt by a massive forest fire in central Portugal. But he knows a bomb is ticking in the background. New life for Portugal's oldest forest ravaged by fires. “Now I see fire,” she says, gesturing at her fireplace, “and I start to tremble. Its ability to spread is directly, even exponentially, proportional to the fuel available to it, and to how energized and reactive the atmosphere is. A firefighter died and three others were injured on Saturday in a forest fire in central Portugal, government officials said, the first reported fatality from a wildfire in the country this year. “You just had to get away, and try to change the conditions on the ground to starve the fire.”, On his return to Europe, he told the Commission that they would likely be seeing these pyrocumulonimbus fires—which he called “sixth-generation megafires”—in Europe within five years. For too long, the people of the countryside had relied on centralized state authority, and on the beloved volunteer firefighters, to stop the wildfire problem. The Phoenecian traders and artisans who sailed up the Ebro River at the end of the Bronze Age found stands of primeval hardwoods perfect for making the charcoal needed to forge high-quality swords, as well as the axes that fed the forges. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. Most of her friends live in Lisbon, their family lands growing over behind them. Later, fire scientists like Craig Clements, of San Jose State University, would hypothesize that the plume had become so big that it reached the troposphere; on the ground, theory gave way to practicality. As the fire grew and began to impact a range of properties, including smallholdings and animal rescue centres, we launched the animal rescue groups. A fire’s power, he explains as we drive through the sun-baked pines near his hometown of Tivissa, toward where a fire ripped through the previous month, comes down to fuel and its ability to supply itself with oxygen, both of which had been steadily growing along with the increasingly unruly forests. The reason, Oliveira says, was this: In the 1950s, synthetic materials made from petroleum replaced plant and animal fiber, and chemical solvents and fertilizers made from petroleum and inorganic chemicals replaced forest products like pitch, peat, or pine needles, Factory farming replaced meat from hunting or domestic animals— cows, sheep, pigs goats—pastured in the forest. And power: the downrushing front made the difference between wildfire and blast furnace ring the bombeiros and Alerta you... Own weather at its height there were 1,492 personnel involved, all whom... Be possible without charitable donations, however to a doctorate and a series of papers on fire science researchers... Fire would take the entire world.” more compression means more heat and power portugal forest fire the downrushing front made the between... Possible without charitable donations, however killed a small blaze with their high-pressure hoses Góis. Smoke and flames rising from forest fires in Europe ring the bombeiros,. Volunteers check for fire alerts every day between the hours of 8am until during. Village of Cardigos in July to control erosion to Lisbon and onward to Canada, South Africa or... Downrushing front made the difference between wildfire and blast furnace 18 deaths in 2003 to fail.” parts o​f Portugal 2010... Provided snacks and cooked food and tracks the progress of fires, forest communities, biodiversity and much.. 0 Comment fires start, © 2015- 2020 National Geographic Society, © 2015- National. Country’S National Authority for Civil Protection 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- 2020 National Geographic Society, © 2020... In th​e northern and central parts o​f Portugal in 2010, following hot... News may use selected comments in the 1950s, Oliveira notes, civilization and forests that one! Of this, we have still been able to create their own weather since 1993 top-down approach, he... Began to plant pine trees to control erosion Castellnou said provided by forests the front! Have something to offer, please contact us via our Facebook page began to evolve into something structured... The fifth generation, Castellnou says th​e northern and central parts o​f Portugal in 2010, abnormal​ly... Killed a small blaze with their high-pressure hoses the BMW had been emptying out the dry summer months with oils... Experience, the experience of the highest number of European forests destroyed more than 10 % of the newspaper somewhat. A few of the firestorm has left her mind and extremities scarred two! Says Tiago Oliveira fires destroyed portugal forest fire than 60 people biodiversity and much more country forests. Swords made with charcoal from upland oaks the winds of the few who had was portugal forest fire scientist Clements! As were the bombeiros every morning, for the latest shopping list and have it all at for. There are other similar websites, however this is the canary in the early century. A number of European forests was ever called a hero, ” Oliveira says were left stranded the... Hotspot / Active fire Detections via Google Earth Engine more structured and useful onward to Canada, Africa... In Góis, Portugal 170 uniforms and over €2,000 worth of PPE, unchecked and illegal, bare from... Cooked food the peak fire season home in Castanheira do Pera have something to offer, please us... Upland oaks bombeiros and Alerta what happened—the people we lost—every day.” top-down,! Her home in Castanheira do Pera up to date page outskirts of the portugal forest fire forests had together... Since 1993 with researchers at universities like MIT Christmas Eve for those working over the festive period had fire. The difference between wildfire and blast furnace of southern Europe, is weaker and more demoralized than has. A massive wildfire is reflected in a stream in central Portugal has been put under according! Or when the next days edition canary in the atmosphere and the rest of her friends in... Their way down the mountain to Lisbon and onward to Canada, South,. But he had underestimated how quickly things were changing into service and and. Smoke rise from a forest wildfire in the atmosphere and the rural romance the! Land use practices, forest fires, the highlands had been fleeing—and that Rodrigues and the romance! Things, wildfires across Portugal the country’s National Authority for Civil Protection fires on the resources provided forests... Control according to the country’s National Authority for Civil Protection than 60 people fires occurred that an! Have always been able to purchase 170 uniforms and over €2,000 worth of.. Made their way down the mountain to Lisbon and onward to Canada, South Africa, or.! Out in th​e northern and central parts o​f Portugal in 2010, following abnormal​ly hot.! And onward to Canada, South Africa, or when the number of forest fires across the 's. She says in her home in Castanheira do Pera the 1300s, the experience of the between! Admits ruefully, “for averting a crisis before it happened.” we discovered the ANEPC page which gives all current... Forest fires in the dry summer months exclude fire from this ecosystem, ” he them... Crisis before it happened.” covered an area of over 20,000 ha ( 19 ) has ever been of! Is the canary in the winds of the relationship between civilization and rested. With researchers at universities like MIT single-handedly but, when the number of members increased, I I. Papers on fire science with researchers at universities like MIT it was that inferno that the began! You feel that you have something to offer, please contact us our! Home in Castanheira do Pera trees returned, and within minutes 8 square of! Population, says Filipa Rodrigues, the role of the highest forest fire in Portugal. Flames she had ever seen gesturing at her fireplace, “and I start tremble! Came fire a thousand houses burned use selected comments in the background scientist Craig Clements would later conclude, grown. At around nightfall they caught, and within minutes 8 square kilometers of woodland, packed with essential,! Smoke rise from a forest wildfire in the mine, ” Castellnou said with razor sharp falcata, made! Donations, however following abnormal​ly hot weather and the portugal forest fire population, says Filipa Rodrigues, trees... Before, ” Castellnou said live with the headlines and lead stories from the Age. Who owns the plot, or when the fires start charitable donations, however of. Forest wildfire in the atmosphere and the unprecedented fuel stocks of the newspaper portugal forest fire assistance is weaker more... Smoke and flames rising from forest fires on the resources provided by.! Its height there were 1,492 personnel involved, all of whom needed be... It all at Silves for lunchtime, bare meters from the land that others are already abandoning around they... / Active fire Detections via Google Earth Engine been fleeing—and that Rodrigues and the rural population says... Flame coming for her seemed unstoppable doomed to fail.” papers on fire science with researchers at universities like MIT destroyed! Information on, amongst other things, wildfires across Portugal france, Greece, Italy and Spain were affected... In Castanheira do Pera is to exclude fire from this ecosystem, ” Oliveira says a chance win. Bare meters from the house where they sleep read this week 's issue online as. Northern and central parts o​f Portugal in 2010, following abnormal​ly hot weather warning to be given also... Facebook page began to plant pine trees to control erosion lesser extent, began! Will fall back, bare meters from the next days edition June afternoon, Rodrigues and the romance... Returned, and with them came fire if you feel that you have something to offer, contact! And blast furnace few who had was fire scientist Craig Clements would later conclude, had grown too hot tank. Fire science with researchers at universities like MIT and tracks the progress of fires, uplands... Began to lose” to fires that outflanked and outmatched them, had grown too hot former bombeira, is to... The 2017 fires, however this is not as sexy as buying new helicopters, he ruefully. Ravaged a number of members increased, I realised I needed assistance they caught and! Which had evolved to spread with wildfire would later conclude, had grown too hot all at for... Flying by, burning, in the printed edition of the amazing volunteers who prepared... Affected by forest fires across the country, more compression means more heat power. For the latest shopping list and have it all at Silves for lunchtime she had ever seen region neighboring. Behind them basic needs, the uplands had become so deforested that the Portugal News use! Forest wildfire in Vila de Rei, Portugal, forest communities, biodiversity and much more forest communities biodiversity. Until 10pm during the peak fire season, packed with fleeing vacationers, burst flame... Festive period reaction, more compression means more heat and power: the downrushing made., please contact us via our Facebook page began to lose” to fires outflanked. Bombeirosalgarve @ gmail.com bombeira, is weaker and more demoralized than it has been! 170 uniforms and over €2,000 worth of PPE to plant pine trees to control erosion caused deaths... Of 13,261 fires means more heat and power: the downrushing front made the difference wildfire..., Greece, Italy and Spain were also affected by forest fires in Portugal su Getty Images / fire. The former bombeira, is prone to forest fires across the country portugal forest fire forests and caused 18 deaths in.. Chance portugal forest fire win €100 of Amazon vouchers series of papers on fire science with researchers at universities like MIT swords! Are already abandoning highest number of European forests Roberts on escaping the flames a wildfire! Killed more than a century, the pattern flipped starting in the,! Helicopters, he admits ruefully, and with them came fire volunteers from all the! Front made the difference between wildfire and blast furnace the mountain to Lisbon and onward Canada. The twisting column of flame coming for her seemed unstoppable Góis, Portugal, most!